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

UMass men’s basketball prevails over state rival UMass Lowell

Minutemen led by 28 with 4:22 left before pulling starters
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team defeated UMass Lowell 91-77 Saturday afternoon in a strong showing on both sides of the court by the Minutemen (5-2).

UMass forward Josh Cohen led the team in scoring with a double-double of 25 points, 14 rebounds, and four steals. This was Cohen’s first double-double of the year as he continues to be a scoring leader for the Minutemen.

UMass also spread the wealth around as three other players broke double digits in points. Rahsool Diggins scored 15 points, Matt Cross had 14 and Keon Thompson with 10.

“We played with a purpose offensively and defensively and when you do that, whether you win or lose, you got to be proud of your guys,” head coach Frank Martin said.

Both teams were matching each other in points to open the half, until the Minutemen went on a 25-9 run that lasted just over seven minutes towards the end of the first half. This swung the momentum in UMass’s favor as it got its first lead of the game during that run, a lead it maintained for the rest of the matchup.

UMass found success attacking the rim, taking advantage of an undermanned River Hawks (6-3) frontcourt as the hosts scored 52 points in the paint on 62.1 percent shooting on layups.

“Today we had that balance,” Martin said. “We had the inside, the outside, we had the driving, the extra passes. We actually played offense with a little bit of tempo, not kind of slow motion… balance is really hard to guard.”

As the River Hawks struggled to find an answer on offense with starters suffering from foul trouble, UMass kept dominating on the offensive and defensive side, producing its largest lead of the night of 28 points with four minutes left in the game.

“We came here last year, and we had a great win, and we were excited for that,” UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette said, “but they beat us this year and I thought they beat us well, I think they beat us by more than the score indicated.”

For the River Hawks, Ayinde Hikim went into the game averaging just under 20 points on 50 percent shooting, but the Minutemen held him to 13 points on 4-of-16 from the field. Yuri Covington led the visitors with 14 points on 50 percent shooting.

Helping UMass grow its lead, Diggins scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, where he also had two steals that resulted in easy points.

“Those are huge plays… It’s a huge momentum play so for us, those were the ones we want,” Cohen said of Diggins’ steals.

The Minutemen scored 21 points off the River Hawks’ 16 turnovers, as UMass capitalized on many of UMass Lowell’s mistakes. The turnover difference aided in the Minutemen’s success as the River Hawks scored just 10 points off UMass’ 13 turnovers.

The hosts took care of the ball well, as they have all season, with UMass’ five guards combining for five turnovers. Thompson led the group in assists with six.

UMass struggled from three, shooting 5-for-18, but picked up the slack with consistency from the free throw line, making 16-of-20 attempts. The bench put up 25 points total as the Minutemen found success from all over the court, fueling the team’s victory over the state rival.

Looking ahead, the Minutemen will travel down to Springfield for the Hall of Fame Classic where they will take on West Virginia on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.

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

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