MHERST, Mass. -- As recently as last February, the Mullins Center was one of the most formidable places in the country for teams visiting UMass.
But in a season where most every aspect of the once-proud Minutemen program is being trampled upon, even the notion of "home-court advantage" means little.
For a few years, St. Joseph's has found UMass -- both at home and on the road -- unsolvable. As close as they'd come, including two overtime games last season, the Eagles couldn't topple UMass.
This season, however, beating on the wounded Minutemen is in vogue, and St. Joe's was more than happy to come to the front of the line to take their whacks.
Trailing by five points at halftime, St. Joe's rallied to defeat UMass 72-68 on Sunday at the Mullins Center.
St. Joe's (6-3) had lost seven straight to UMass (5-8), a team that, to put it mildly, is reeling into hoops oblivion.
UMass led 68-67 with 1:45 to play on two free throws by Tyrone Weeks. But successive free throws by Nemanja Petrovic and Robert Haskins gave St. Joseph's the lead for good.
Arthur Davis led St. Joe's with 14 points and Petrovic added 13, followed by Terrell Myers and Duval Simmonds with 10 each.
Carmelo Travieso led UMass with 23 points, followed by Weeks with 19.
MHERST -- No loss feels good. Sunday's 72-68 loss to St. Joseph's, though, was particularly painful for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen.
It wasn't just that this was the league opener, or that it was a hard-fought game decided late. This one carried a special sting because it punctured any sense of invincibility the Minutemen might have been feeling: even in the A-10, even at home, this team is vulnerable. At 5-8 (0-1) last year's Final Four entry now is looking at the possibility of a fair bit of free time in March.
To be sure, St. Joe's (6-3, 1-0) played exceedingly well. There was not much margin for error for UMass in this one, and despite doing plenty of good things, there were just enough bad ones to tilt the game away from the Minutemen.
"When it was gut-check time, they made a basket, they came up with balls and we didn't," said coach Bruiser Flint. "That was the bottom line. They wanted it just a little bit more than we did. They went home with the victory, and they deserved it."
Down the stretch there were chances. UMass had taken a 68-67 lead with 1:45 left when Tyrone Weeks hit both ends of a one-and-one free throw opportunity. The Minutemen seemed to be in good shape on the other end when Edgar Padilla stripped a rebound away from Dmitri Domani, but then the game turned.
Padilla came up short on a foul-line jumper, and Lari Ketner was called for his fifth foul from an inside position in the lane. Nemanja Petrovic hit the first of two free throws to tie the game, and Robert Haskins soared high to gather in the rebound of the next miss -- the third time in the half that the Hawks had corraled their own missed free throw. Haskins was fouled on the rebound and dropped in one of two shots for a 69-68 lead.
On the other end, UMass worked the ball to Carmelo Travieso, who drove into the lane, hung up in the air and got fouled with 26.4 seconds left. Travieso had had a superb game, scoring a game-high 23 points. In an almost identical situation earlier this year, he hit both foul shots in the closing seconds to clinch a one-point win against North Carolina-Wilmington. But after a timeout, Travieso badly missed both attempts.
Rashid Bey was then fouled and hit both shots to extend the lead to 71-68 with 21 seconds left. Facing their last gasp, UMass came into the frontcourt hoping to free Travieso for a 3-pointer. He did not get around a triple screen, however, and Padilla forced up a 25-footer that hit nothing. Petrovic was fouled on the rebound and hit one of two for the final margin.
St. Joe's balanced attack was led by Arthur Davis with 14 points. Petrovic had 13, while Terrell Myers and Duval Simmonds tossed in 10 apiece.
UMass got the 23 from Travieso, and a 19-point, 12-rebound effort from Weeks.
For St. Joe's this was a sweet win indeed. The Hawks had lost two overtime decisions to the Minutemen a year ago. Coach Phil Martelli, though, said that he didn't even address the past with his team. He said that he merely geared his players for the contest by saying, "This game in this place against this team is for men only."
As for UMass, Martelli said, "They're still the best in the league until somebody proves different."
It's possible that that proof has already been provided.
UMass next plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Philadelphia against LaSalle.
|St. Joseph's Hawks||72|
|at the Mullins Center|
ST JOSEPHS PA (72) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Simmonds 23 3-4 2-4 1-3 1 2 10 Domani 33 2-4 2-2 0-1 1 1 6 Petrovic 26 4-6 5-8 1-3 0 4 13 Bey 36 2-9 4-4 2-2 5 3 8 Davis 28 5-12 0-0 2-8 4 1 14 Myers 22 4-11 0-0 1-2 2 2 10 Brown 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Rasul 14 1-2 4-4 2-4 1 2 6 Haskins 17 2-2 1-3 2-8 0 2 5 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 23-50 18-25 11-31 14 17 72 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.460, FT-.720. 3-Point Goals: 8-21, .381 (Simmonds 2-3, Bey 0-5, Davis 4-6, Myers 2-6, Rasul 0-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 18 (Myers 4, Rasul 4, Bey 2, Davis 2, Domani 2, Simmonds 2, Haskins, Petrovic). Steals: 5 (Simmonds 2, Bey, Davis, Petrovic). MASSACHUSETTS (68) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Babul 12 1-2 0-0 1-2 0 0 2 Weeks 35 8-16 3-4 5-12 4 2 19 Ketner 17 3-5 0-0 0-1 0 5 6 Clarke 34 1-4 2-4 1-2 6 4 5 Travieso 39 9-19 0-2 1-3 4 0 23 Padilla 21 3-6 0-0 0-3 5 4 7 Smith 14 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 2 Kirkland 5 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 Norville 23 1-4 2-3 2-6 0 3 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 27-59 7-13 10-30 20 20 68 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.458, FT-.538. 3-Point Goals: 7-15, .467 (Clarke 1-2, Travieso 5-10, Padilla 1-3). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Weeks, Ketner). Turnovers: 12 (Weeks 4, Norville 2, Clarke, Ketner, Kirkland, Padilla, Smith, Travieso). Steals: 8 (Weeks 3, Babul, Clarke, Padilla, Smith, Travieso). __________________________________ St Josephs Pa 34 38 - 72 Massachusetts 39 29 - 68 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 9,493. Officials: Mike Kitts, Bob Donato, Phil Bova.