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 hosts St Bonaventure in pivotal A-10 matchup

Minutemen seek revenge for loss earlier this month
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2024)

After a commanding win over VCU on Tuesday night, with the fifth seed and possibly more on the line in the Atlantic-10 standings, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team remains at its home court and hosts St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon.

These two teams met earlier this month on Feb. 7 at the Reilly Center, where the Bonnies (16-10, 7-7 Atlantic 10) handed UMass (17-9, 8-6 A-10) a 79-73 loss. Now, with a chance to avenge themselves and even out the score, St. Bonaventure travels to the Mullins Center.

“Our guys are right there and in such a hard league, that our guys are continuing to battle and play better … in this league, you better be humble enough to understand that you can get beat any day, but confident enough to know that you can win any day,” head coach Frank Martin said.

In its last matchup, St. Bonaventure’s guard Charles Pride was its leading scorer with 19 points, three rebounds and one assist. Forward Chad Venning put up 15 with seven rebounds and four blocks. Venning’s defensive presence and 6-foot-10 build hurt the Minutemen’s offensive opportunities throughout the entire game.

Venning averages 14.3 points, a team high, and has started in all 26 games for the Bonnies. Pride, who averages 11.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, has only missed three games, and the pair have become a solid duo on the court for St. Bonaventure.

During the last meeting between the two teams, four players on the Bonnies scored at least 14 points, including Mika Adams-Woods, who had 15 points, one rebound, three assists and two steals and Moses Flowers who scored 14 with four rebounds.

Compare that to UMass where only two players, Matt Cross and Keon Thompson, scored 14 points or more. Cross led the team with 19, six rebounds and five assists while Thompson had 17 with seven rebounds and one assist.

One of the main factors that contributed to the Minutemen’s loss earlier this month was the foul troubles that plagued the team for the entire game. After the first half, Josh Cohen had two personal fouls and Daniel Hankins-Sanford had three, each resulting in limited first-half play.

“We’re getting ready to play a team that just beat us in the post last time we played, they just kept throwing it in there and got us in bad foul trouble and we just, you know, never had an answer for the post guys,” Martin said.

After coming off a 17 point performance against George Mason, Cohen recorded his second-lowest scoring game in his UMass career with only four points over 28 minutes, including a scoreless first half. St. Bonaventure’s game planned well against Cohen in its first meeting, something most teams have struggled with this season, and all eyes will be on Cohen to see him he can bounce back.

“[Cohen’s] been a lot different since that game and we need him to play like he has for the last four games and if he does that, he’s gonna help us, like he has all year,” Martin said.

With Cohen’s low scoring game and players being forced to sit due to fouls, Rahsool Diggins and freshman Jayden Ndjigue were left to pick up the slack. Diggins ended the night with 10 points and one rebound and Ndjigue, who fouled out in the final minutes, had 12 points with five rebounds and three assists.

Both teams played each other evenly, neither besting the other in one specific category, as the game consisted of six lead changes and came down to the final minutes.

The Bonnies are coming off a La Salle loss on Wednesday night, a team that UMass just lost to one game ago and is currently seeded at eight in the A-10 standings.

With much on the line for both teams in the conference standings, Saturday’s game also consists of a day of celebration for UMass basketball alumni and the current seniors on the team.

The latest update from Martin is that 90 different alum players will be in attendance during the St. Bonaventure game, including the 2014 NCAA team. Along with this, seniors Matt Cross and Ryan Marcus will be celebrated during a pre-game ceremony, honoring each player’s impact on the team over the time they’ve been at UMass.

“That commitment that [Cross] and [Marcus] has had and how they go about their business and the community on campus, the way they play the game, the way that they speak when you interview them and ask them a question, the way they represent out our program, I think people are starting to respect our team because of that,” Martin said.

Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and can be watched on the USA Network.

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

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