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 avoids heartbreak, pulls off 69-67 win against Davidson

Cross leads Minutemen with clutch 26-point game
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2024)

In a back-and-forth matchup that came down to the final minute, the Massachusetts’s men’s basketball team barely pulled Saturday’s win against Dayton out, especially with it being down three with under 50 seconds left. But two fouls committed by the Wildcats (15-14, 5-11 Atlantic 10) put Matt Cross at the line both times, where the senior went 4-for-4, which allowed the Minutemen (19-10, 10-7 A-10) to close the three-point gap and get ahead by one.

Fouls, free throws and turnovers prolonged the inevitable, and critical mistakes made by Davidson in the final moments of the game allowed UMass to snatch the lead and secure a 69-67 victory, capping off its final regular season road game.

The Minutemen are no stranger to games that end in the final seconds, as UMass has been on both sides of wins and losses in those types of matchups this season. But with this road game resulting in victory, UMass moves to 19 wins on the year, the most wins the team has had since the 2013-2014 season.

“Another crazy A-10 game … so for us to scrap a win and figure out a way to get the 19 and 10 league wins, it is a credit to these kids, the way they pick each other up, the way they believe … they just keep battling and to do positive things for one another,” head coach Frank Martin said.

Cross, whose clutch free throws came when the team needed them most, led all scorers in the afternoon matchup with 26 points, shooting 9-of-12. Going 8-for-10 at the line, with five rebounds, two assists and two steals, and on the verge of fouling out with four fouls, the senior prevailed through all adversity and led the way for the Minutemen.

“[Cross is] about winning,” Martin said. “He doesn’t care about how many shots he gets or who shoots, he just wants to win and he went out there and he led the way [Saturday].”

UMass outrebounded Davidson 45 to 31 with 20 offensive rebounds to the Wildcat’s seven. The 20 offensive boards marks only the third time all season when the Minutemen had 20 or more offensive rebounds. Daniel Hankins-Sanford had 12 rebounds, the most on the team in addition to 10 points, while Josh Cohen had the second-most rebounds of the game with eight, paired with eight points and two assists.

The efficient rebounding awarded UMass 16 second-chance points, which was needed after getting beaten in the paint all the game. The Wildcats scored 50 of their 67 points in the paint compared to the Minutemen’s 32, which forced UMass to the perimeter to take its shots.

However, both teams struggled when it came down to shooting 3-pointers, ending the game with a combined seven made on 38 shots from distance, with five of those made 3-pointers coming from UMass.

With four made 3-pointers by Rahsool Diggins, who went 4-of-8 from the field and finished with 13 points, and one made by freshman Jaylen Curry who scored 8, the two stood out among the rest of the roster as no other player netted a 3-pointer.

In a game of runs, the lead changed nine different times with 11 ties, as UMass continued fighting to maintain the lead that it held for most of the game. Reed Bailey, Connor Kochera and Grant Huffman all scored in double figures for the Wildcats, keeping the game within reach.

Bailey led Davidson with 22 points paired with five rebounds, Kochera scored 16 with six boards, while Huffman scored 14 with four rebounds and nine assists. With Keon Thompson still battling an injury, UMass’ defensive play was not as efficient as it has been this season, allowing the Wildcats to keep it close, but the offense, Cross and numerous clutch plays helped propel the Minutemen victory.

“Every game we play is like the one [Saturday] … we just got to enjoy this moment,” Martin said. “We got a lot of work to do in front of us, last time we were home we lost, we got to be better against Fordham on Wednesday.”

With the regular season finale next up for UMass, it returns home, hosting Fordham at the Mullins Center on March 6 with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m.

Samantha Sands can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X/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 *