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 blows by George Washington in 69-57 victory

Minutemen take 25-point lead in second half
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2024)

After a tough home loss on Saturday to St. Bonaventure, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team shook it off against George Washington on Tuesday night with a dominant 69-57 victory.

The final score of this game and how it actually played out are two different stories to tell. With its biggest lead of 25 points occurring with 14 minutes left in the second half, UMass (18-10, 9-7 Atlantic 10) dominated for the entire first half and continued to hang on to the strong lead they took for almost the entire night. The Minutemen did not trail even for a second.

“Really proud of our guys after a disheartening loss… they handled the preparation phase in a positive way, instead of moping and pouting because we lost the game, they took that moment… and came out today and played their hearts out,” head coach Frank Martin said.

Matt Cross was the leading scorer for the Minutemen with 17 points, shooting 8-of-12 from the field, along with seven rebounds and two assists. Two other players scored in double digits: Josh Cohen finished the night with 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting and Rahsool Diggins netted 13 with three made 3-pointers.

“[Cohen] has the ability to score in there, [Cross] is so interchangeable with passing and shooting and rebounding and inside scoring and then [Diggins] gives us that veteran presence on the perimeter with a great personality that he’s grown into and it’s fun to watch, it’s fun to be around,” Martin said.

With Cross and Cohen combining for 29 points, the team conquered and attacked the paint throughout the game. With a final total of 38 points scored inside the paint, the Minutemen have found continued success scoring inside throughout the season and George Washington (14-14, 3-12 A-10) had no answer on how to defend it. UMass shot 64.7 percent from inside the arc.

Compared to the Revolutionaries who only scored 22 in the paint, the Minutemen’s defense forced George Washington to take contested perimeter shots and keep them away from the easy buckets at the board.

UMass ended the game shooting 51% from the field and 33% from the three, as the Minutemen found rhythm on offense and took advantage of their opportunities as the Revolutionaries experienced poor shooting stretches.

As UMass took a 40-18 lead prior to halftime, the Revolutionaries were shooting 1-of-16 from three. To differentiate the two states each team was headed into halftime, five different Minutemen had netted a 3-pointer in the first half.

“Offensively we did a pretty good job of attacking their matchup zone and their man-to-man in the first half… [they] all made jump shots… but when you have the right guys shoot from the right spots and you actually move the ball and do things the way we did in the first half, you got to make some of them and today we did,” Martin said.

UMass held George Washington to 21.4 percent from deep, the lowest mark it has allowed in conference play.

The Minutemen also outrebounded George Washington 34 to 28 overall and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds. For UMass, Jayden Ndjigue and Daniel Hankins-Sanford each had six boards to go with Cross’ seven.

Despite the commanding lead that the Minutemen orchestrated in the first, the Revolutionaries, who suffered their 11 straight loss, did not stop fighting and outscored the Minutemen in the second half 36-29. But UMass held on, doing enough to maintain its lead.

The one leading the charge for the Revolutionaries was Darren Buchanan Jr., who scored 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and notched seven rebounds and three assists. Their only other player to score in double figures was Jacoi Hutchinson, who had 14 points and three assists.

With four George Washington players who played significant minutes each not scoring more than five points, UMass had a solid night on defense, with coach Martin emphasizing the team’s strong ball screen and perimeter defense. James Bishop IV, GW’s leading scorer at 18.5 points per game, was limited to just four against UMass.

With just two games left on the slate until the conference tournament, the Minutemen continue their road trip, traveling to Davidson, North Carolina to challenge the Wildcats on Saturday, March 3. The game will be broadcast on USA Network with tipoff set for 2:30 p.m.

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

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