Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Matt Cross helps seal UMass’ win over Quinnipiac

Minutemen pull away behind Cross’ second half effort
Kayla Wong
Daily Collegian (2023)

In the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s 102-81 victory over Quinnipiac on Monday night, UMass (2-0) had many scorers contribute across the board to pull away from the Bobcats (2-1) in the second half, and senior forward Matt Cross helped pave the way.

Cross had 19 points, five rebounds, two steals and no turnovers in 20 minutes. He was limited and subbed out due to two early fouls in the first few minutes of play, recording just four minutes of action in the first half. Cross did not return to the court until the second half, where he put up 16 points in 15 minutes. He shot 6-for-9 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free throw line.

His second half performance helped push the Minutemen forward and give them a substantial lead to close out the game. During a minute-long stretch at the start of the half, Cross scored seven straight points for UMass.

Cross started the second half on the court and didn’t sub out until the 4:42 mark. The Minutemen turned a nine-point lead at half into a 17-point gap by the time he went back to the bench.

“[Cross is] so strong and he’s learned how to play off of two feet when he drives the ball,” head coach Frank Martin explained. “Trying to get him better as to how to use those big shoulders and those strong legs and put them on the ground and just go through people to score rather than avoid.”

The early substitutions due to foul troubles for Cross have been a constant for the first two games of the season and have limited his minutes in the first half and it is evident that the Minutemen miss his presence when he is on the bench.

As UMass came out of halftime with a nine-point lead, Cross was back on the court and immediately made his impact felt. Driving to the basket and forcing himself through Quinnipiac’s players, he quickly put up eight points in the first three minutes, setting the tone for how the rest of the half was going to play out.

With 11 minutes left, a defensive rebound by guard Marqui Worthy found Cross on a fast break into the paint and the forward hammered home a one-handed dunk, adding to UMass’s 14-point lead at the time. Quinnipiac had no solution to stop Cross who continued to find ways for himself to score and distributing the ball around to create more opportunities for his teammates.

“I was just itching to play at that point,” Cross said regarding not playing much in the first. “I was upset with myself, but I wasn’t too upset because watching our young guys and our guys that came back, [they] had the game in control.”

Before the start of the season, Cross was named a 2023-24 preseason All-Atlantic 10 Third Team selection after a productive year with UMass last season where he averaged 12 points per game. After a solid first year in Amherst with Coach Martin and with the loss of many UMass players to the transfer portal, the Minutemen will be relying heavily on Cross and the physicality he brings to the game — his impact doesn’t just come on the offensive side of the ball.

“Defensive rebounding without Matt Cross is a major problem right now,” Martin said. “It’s not an individual problem. It’s a team problem. We got to fix it.”

Quinnipiac’s head coach Tom Pecora said, “Cross was a power out there in the second half, he did a great job of imposing his will on us in the baseline.” Once Cross gets some momentum going, he is not easy to stop. Quinnipiac, who did not see much of him at the beginning of the game, had no strategy to put a stop to him in the second.

With a 19 point performance for Cross and 102 points scored for the Minutemen, they hope to carry that offensive momentum into Friday’s home game matchup versus Harvard on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.

“It will be a good challenge for us, and I think we’re just ready to move on… quick turnaround, [and] start getting ready for [Harvard],” Cross said.

Samantha Sands can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @samantha_sands_

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *