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

Cross’ double-double, UMass’ rebounding lead upset win at Richmond

Cross’ presence helps Minutemen on dominant rebounding night
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2024)

As the Massachusetts men’s basketball team traveled to face off against Atlantic 10 leaders Richmond, Matt Cross put up his fourth double-double of the season to cement a 69-59 underdog victory for UMass (16-8, 7-5 A-10).

Cross, who missed three games with leg and mouth injuries last month, has made his way back into the lineup seamlessly, scoring in double figures in four out of his last five games since.

The A-10’s current top seed, Richmond (17-7, 9-2 A-10), had no answer when it came to stopping the force of the 6-foot-7 senior. Cross completed the night with 16 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 4-of-6 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line.

Cross’s 13 rebounds – nine defensive and four offensive – and two assists aided in creating more scoring opportunities for him and his teammates. With eight different Minutemen scoring at least a bucket in Wednesday’s game, Cross’s vision of the court and ability to power through opponents was one of the main reasons why UMass pulled out the victory.

“I consider myself to be a team guy, so I try to make the best play possible, so if that’s finding guys open, that’s finding guys open,” Cross said after Sunday’s win against Rhode Island. “I think our team makes it easy for me.”

In the Minutemen’s last few games, Cross has been a major factor in the team’s rebounding performances. Against Richmond, the Minutemen had 46 boards to the Spider’s 29.

“It’s hard to win on the road… we scored enough, and we rebounded and defended… when you do those things, you give yourself a chance to win on the road,” said head coach Frank Martin.

UMass won the rebounding battle in each of its last five games. And in all of them, Cross had five or more rebounds. He is the rebounding leader for the Minutemen, averaging 8.3 per game with 174 total on the season. He ranks second in the A-10 in that category.

“It’s just effort, effort in wanting to get physical, effort wanting to get the rebound, effort in wanting to box someone out and it counts on both sides,” Cross said.

In those games, the Minutemen have also had 11 or more offensive rebounds. Offensive rebounding has been a strong suit for UMass all season, continuously getting outworking opponents, which has also helped the Minutemen win four of their last five. They rank 14th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 37.2 percent.

Among the Atlantic 10, UMass is currently ranked as the number 1 team in rebounding, averaging 39 per game. The Minutemen are also ranked first in offensive boards with an average of 13 a game, but placed 11th in defensive boards with 25 a game.

With all the success Cross brings to rebounding, it helps when the same guy can consistently score points as well. Scoring in double figures in four of the last five games, Cross finished two of those with 19 points.

As Cross averages 15.4 points a game and 8.3 rebounds, he is one of the top players in the conference. Ranked 10th in scoring and second in rebounding in a team contending for a double-bye, he has proven to be an all-around dynamic player and a nightmare to defend for opponents.

With six games left on the schedule, Cross’ scoring and rebounding abilities help make UMass a late-season threat in the conference.

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

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