uring practice Friday, some Xavier players did not block out while going for a rebound.
Right in front of the team, coach Skip Prosser ripped up the day's practice schedule. He told the guys: “If we don't rebound, all the rest of the stuff we're doing doesn't matter.”
They must have gotten the message.
Shannon Crooks wrestles with Maurice McAfee.
XU had 43 rebounds, 16 offensive, and 22 second-chance points.
UMass had 21 rebounds, eight offensive, and seven second-chance points.
“I'm shocked,” Prosser said.
The rebounding advantage was Xavier's second-best of the season; the Musketeers have outrebounded their last three opponents by an average of 18.3 a game.
“That's what we wanted to do, go out there and grab boards and play strong,” XU sophomore Aaron Turner said. “Plus, we needed a win. It's a must. It just shows the people who pick the field we're back and ready for the NCAA Tournament. We're playing better, thinking more and playing as a team.”
Like all Xavier games lately, this was yet another that was up for grabs.
It was tied — for the 11th time — at 58 with 10:36 remaining. David West scored for Xavier on a rebound basket. Twice Kevin Frey was fouled going to the basket, and he made four straight free throws. Frey then spun around Shannon Crooks on the baseline and went in for a dunk.
XU was ahead 66-58 with 7:07 to play.
After Monty Mack's 3-pointer, UMass was within five but would get no closer.
The Musketeers' last field goal came with 4:51 left, but they made 14 of 16 free throws the rest of the way to secure the victory. That was the same way they held on at Canisius on Wednesday night.
Xavier (15-8, 5-5 Atlantic 10) outscored UMass 36-8 at the foul line and attempted 29 more free throws. The Minutemen were called for 15 more personal fouls, though eight of those came in the last three minutes.
“What do you say to that?” UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. “We shot 13 free throws and never got into the one-and-one (bonus) in either half.”
Said Prosser: “If I'm Bruiser, I look at those stats and I'm frustrated as well.”
XU sophomore Lloyd Price, who just a week earlier dislocated his left ring finger, had his second straight double-double, leading Xavier with a career-high 28 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
“Every win is nice, but UMass is the name and the players, that means something,” Price said.
Two things hurt Massachusetts (12-11, 6-4):
• Center Kitwana Rhymer got in foul trouble, and when that happens the Minutemen struggle with rebounding
• Mack and Chris Kirkland got little help on the offensive end. The two seniors combined for 50 of 77 points.
Mack, the No.2 scorer in the league, was almost a one-man show. He scored a game-high 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting. He was 6-of-12 from 3-point range and scored 21 — half the Minutemen's points — in the first half.
“He shredded us in the first half,” Prosser said. “We tried everything. We tried to give him different looks.
“I don't know if he just got tired of making baskets, his right arm got tired, but at least we did a better job on him in the second half.”
The Musketeers have won two straight and four of their last five following a four-game losing streak.
XU is tied for second place in the A-10 West with George Washington, which lost at La Salle on Saturday.
“I think those losses have brought us together,” Price said. “A losing streak is either gonna make you or break you as a team.”
“Right now we have to play with a tremendous resolve,” Prosser said. “Every game is Armageddon. We have to approach it that way.”
unior Reggie Butler started Saturday for Xavier, but sophomore Aaron Turner started the second half in his place. Why?
Mike Babul gets in the way of the pass.
“I didn't think we had the emotion and energy that we needed to continue to compete with them,” Prosser said. “We were trying to up the tempo and get a little bit of energy going. Our press is infinitely better when we can put him on the ball.”
Turner had four points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes. Butler finished with two points and three rebounds in eight minutes.
“The kid plays so hard,” Prosser said of Turner. “He would take a charge on Amtrak.”
XU senior Darnell Williams was 5-of-8 from the field with 19 points Saturday. It was the first game since Jan.11 at Dayton that he's shot 50 percent and the first time since Dec.21 against St. Mary's that he's shot better than 50 percent.
“It's feeling like a rebirth mentally and physically,” he said. “Everything's starting to loosen up. The shot feels like it's coming back.”
In the past two games, he has averaged 18 points and hit 5-of-13 from 3-point range.
“He realizes it's coming to a close,” Prosser said.
Sophomore Brandon McIntosh, out since Jan.30 with a fractured left cheekbone, will be evaluated Wednesday. If cleared, he will resume practicing Thursday.
UMass senior Chris Kirkland has shot 65.8 percent (25-of-38) from the field the past three games against Xavier, averaging 21 points. Monty Mack, who scored 32 Saturday, has averaged 23.7 points during those same games.
• Xavier has won 27 of its last 28 games at the Gardens.
• Freshman David West had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double. He has scored in double figures five straight games during which XU is 4-1.
• The Musketeers made 36 of 42 free throws (85.7 percent) in the game, including 10-of-10 by Maurice McAfee and 12-of-14 by Lloyd Price.
Xavier plays host to Duquesne at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Gardens (Channel 64).
The Dukes defeated the Musketeers 85-78 in Pittsburgh on Jan.15.
arly in the game, a team likes to set a certain tone. Be it taking a charge, a monster dunk, or a barrage of triples, one team usually lets the other know that, “Hey, we came to play tonight.” Today, Skip Prosser took the role as trendsetter. Early in the game, David West made a bad decision and fouled Chris Kirkland. He complained to the ref and was quickly admonished by Prosser, “You wanna ref or play?” XU (15-8, 5-5) responded to the challenge, knocking off UMass (12-11, 6-4), 87-77.
Both teams had a difficult time getting the ball in the bucket early on in the contest. By the first media timeout, Lloyd Price had the only field goal – an up-and-under reverse past two defenders. UMass came out from the timeout and began the scoring, and both teams started to get into the offensive flow.
UMass and XU went back and forth for most of the first half, and neither team took control of the tempo, largely because of the continuous stream of fouls and free throws. The teams combined for 13 fouls in the first 12 minutes. The Muskies took full advantage of their free throws, knocking down 17 of their 19 attempts. Price and Monty Mack led their respective teams in the first half with 19 and 21 points, respectively, and the score was knotted at halftime, 42-42.
The first half was sloppy on both sides of the ball. The teams combined for 18 fouls and 18 turnovers. The key was the hot shooting on both sides of the coin; UMass shot 57.1% (16-28) from the field, while the Muskies knocked down 47.8% (11-23) of their shots.
The second half started just like the first, with XU and the Minutemen having a difficult time getting the ball in the basket. Between both teams, just one bucket – a Turner offensive rebound an put-back – was recorded in the first 3:45. UMass took a four-point advantage after a pair of Mack free throws and a couple of Minutemen lay-ups.
XU stormed back, primed by a Darnell Williams triple and an emphatic throw-down by West. XU took a 53-50 lead, prompting Bruiser Flint to take a timeout. XU tried to stretch the lead with a McAfee three-pointer, but the Minutemen wouldn’t go away, pulling even at 58-58 with 10:30 to play.
As the preview pointed out earlier in the week, the game came down to free throw shooting. Xavier was able to grow the lead from the foul line, and when UMass didn’t score on a couple late possessions, they were forced to keep sending the Muskies to the free throw line, where XU missed just six of their 42 attempts (85.7%).
The game was also keyed by Xavier’s offensive rebounding advantage. Keeping the bigger Minutemen off the glass on their offensive end helped XU get out in transition, leading to Coach Prosser’s favorite buckets: cheap ones. When asked if the keys to the win lay in the cheap baskets and free throws, Coach responded, “Absolutely. We thought we’d have trouble scoring against their five-on-five defense… we got some cheap ones around the basket and made a plethora of free throws.
Price, with 28 points and 11 rebounds, led the Musketeers in scoring and rebounding while notching career-highs in both categories for himself. Williams added 19, and McAfee – on 10-10 shooting from the FT line – had 15. Monty Mack led all scorers with 32 points.
Winners of four of their last five, the Muskies now host Duquesne on Tuesday. The Dukes beat the Muskies on Jan. 15, 85-78, and XU will be looking for some revenge.
INCINNATI — It was not the type of game the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team prefers. There was plenty of scoring, and only limited defense.
But what hurt most in the Minutemen's 87-77 loss to Xavier at the Cincinnati Gardens yesterday was an aspect of the game that UMass has traditionally done well — rebounding.
"Our players look around the room and say, 'You know, a lot of my buddies can't shoot,'" Xavier coach Skip Prosser said after the Musketeers manhandled UMass 43-21 on the boards, including 16 offensive rebounds.
"So they know a lot of rebounds are going to come off with nobody's name on them — to whom it may concern," Prosser said. "They know it would help if it concerns us more than it concerns them."
It did. A 12-0 run gave Xavier (15-8, 5-5 Atlantic 10) a 56-50 lead with 12 minutes left. UMass (12-11, 6-4) came back to tie the game at 58, but couldn't sustain its momentum and lost despite Monty Mack's season-high 32 points.
Xavier pleased a sellout crowd of 10,100 by putting up the highest point total by a UMass opponent since George Washington's 88 in a 1998 A-10 tournament quarterfinal game. The Musketeers are 11-1 at home.
It was the second time in four games that UMass was more than doubled on the boards. Temple owned a staggering 48-20 rebounding edge in a 75-48 win Feb. 1.
Xavier also wore out the foul stripe, hitting 36 of 42 free throws while UMass was 8 of 13. That difference didn't escape UMass coach Bruiser Flint's attention.
"Officiating didn't cost us the game, because they pounded the boards," Flint said. "But Xavier plays just like we do, picking you up full court and playing bump-and-grind. And they took 29 more free throws than we did."
Mack was on fire in the first half, which ended in a 42-42 tie. The 6-foot-3 guard hit five of his six 3-pointers before halftime, when he scored 21 points despite Xavier's box-and-one defense.
"Mack was unbelievable," said Xavier swingman Lloyd Price, a sophomore who answered with a career-high 28 points and tied his career best with 11 rebounds. "I think we just executed a little better in the second half."
Mack, who also had five assists, shot 4 for 9 and had 11 points in the second half.
"We usually don't even practice box-and-one, but we used it on Mack in last year's conference tournament and worked on it this week," Prosser said. "The first half, it didn't matter. It looked like he was shooting in a park-and-rec situation, so we just tried to make it a little more uncomfortable for him in the second half."
"They tried to make it tough on me," Mack said. "But what killed us was that all five of their guys rebounded."
Xavier center David West, the Atlantic 10's leading rebounder, had 10 boards against a UMass interior crippled by center Kitwana Rhymer's two early fouls.
Darnell Williams scored 19 for Xavier, but the anchor was Price, who was 12 of 14 from the line and had 19 points in the first half. He also did a number on UMass forward Mike Babul's reputation for peerless defense. "Everyone's been saying Babul was the best defender in the A-10, but Lloyd answered the challenge," Xavier guard Maurice McAfee said. "He shut everyone up."
McAfee added 15 points and hit all 10 free throws. His 3-pointer capped the 12-0 surge that gave Xavier a 56-50 lead.
UMass battled back for a 58-58 tie on a layup by Chris Kirkland (18 points on 9-for-12 shooting) with 10:47 left. But Xavier scored the next eight points, and UMass never came closer than five.
INCINNATI — Bruiser Flint hasn't been hit with a technical foul this season, but the University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach came pretty close at the end of yesterday's 87-77 loss to Xavier at the Cincinnati Gardens.
Afterward, Flint tried not to discredit Xavier's victory, but said he had problems with the numbers that showed the Musketeers hitting 36 of 42 foul shots, while UMass was 8 for 13.
"I've been pretty calm with the officials this season," Flint said. "But we never got to shoot the one-and-one in either half. They were calling touch fouls up top, but Monty Mack was getting banged, coming off screens all day, and they didn't call it."
The Minutemen were whistled for 28 fouls to Xavier's 13, and Micah Brand and Shannon Crooks fouled out. Part of the difference was Xavier's aggressive inside play, while UMass relied on Mack's outside shooting.
And with UMass trailing at the end, they needed to foul to stop the clock. But even in the first half, Xavier made 17 of 19 free throws, while UMass was 4 for 6.
"For a while in the first half, that was the only way we were scoring," said Xavier coach Skip Prosser, who didn't quarrel with Flint's analysis of the free-throw discrepancy.
"Well, we have these Jesuits on our bench," said Prosser, injecting some humor. "So you see, we just don't foul, but others foul us.
"But if I were Bruiser and I looked at those stats, I'd get just as frustrated," said Prosser, turning serious. "But I'm not, so I don't."
With 32 points, Mack just missed his career scoring high (34 against College of Charleston last year), but moved into eighth all-time at UMass with 1,439 career points. He passed Horace Neysmith (1,428), and now pursues Mike Pyatt, seventh with 1,503.
Mack will be eligible next season, assuming he graduates on time as expected this spring.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Crooks converted only 4 for 13 from the field, but his eight assists were a career high . . . UMass center Kitwana Rhymer, who had a team-high six rebounds in only 22 minutes, went 4 for 5 from the line and has made 27 of his last 31 — - after missing 19 of his first 37 this season . . . Xavier guard Darnell Williams' 19 points matched his season high. The 6-foot-5 senior missed all of last season with knee surgery.
UMass reached Cincinnati several hours later than planned Friday, when a mechanical problem grounded their first flight . . . UMass coaches are encouraged that 6-7 Raheim Lamb, a signed recruit out of Boston English High, has improved his perimeter game and ball-handling this season . . . A Springfield Falcons banner hangs from the Cincinnati Gardens rafters, as do banners of the other opponents of the city's American Hockey League team . . . UMass athletic director Bob Marcum said the school tried to book a home-and-home football series with Georgia Southern, which lost to UMass in the 1998 I-AA title game, then defeated the Minutemen in last year's quarterfinals. Marcum said the Georgia school declined.
INCINNATI, Ohio - After 20 minutes of 3-pointers, floating bank shots, steals for layups and free throws, all by Monty Mack, the only thing that could slow him down finally did.
Where Maurice McAfee and Lloyd Price failed, halftime succeeded. Mack's 21 first-half points kept the University of Massachusetts alive in a 42-42 first frame. But when intermission took Mack out of the zone he was in, all UMass' shortcomings came to light, as Xavier ultimately beat the Minutemen, 87-77, in front of a sold-out Cincinnati Gardens.
The biggest of those shortcomings came on the glass at both ends of the floor. The Musketeers more than doubled UMass' rebounding efforts, 43-21. Xavier forwards Lloyd Price (11 rebounds) and David West (10) matched the Minutemen's output all by themselves.
"All five of their guys rebounded," Mack said. "That's what killed us. They got a lot of offensive rebounds and some very big put-backs."
"We don't shoot very well," said Xavier coach Skip Prosser. "Our guys look around the room and they say, 'A lot of my buddies can't shoot,' so if they shoot it, it's a good idea to go to the boards."
Foul trouble for junior center Kitwana Rhymer has been an ingredient in many of UMass' 11 losses. Saturday was no different as Rhymer picked up two quick first-half whistles. Even on the court in the second half, he struggled to counteract Xavier on the boards.
"We just didn't rebound," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "Xavier did a good job rebounding. One thing they do is rebound the ball. They really pounded the boards. Once Kit gets in foul trouble, that really kills us with rebounds."
After Aaron Turner scored the first basket of the second half, Mack and Shannon Crooks each scored four points in an 8-0 run that gave UMass (12-11, 6-4) its biggest lead of the game at 50-44 with 14:38 left. But it was short-lived as Xavier countered with a 12-0 run that the Minutemen never recovered from. That spurt expanded to 22-8, leaving UMass behind 66-58 with 7:07 left.
The Minutemen kept scoring, but were unable to stop the Musketeers on the other end and eventually they were forced to foul. McAfee made eight free throws down the stretch.
Mack led the Minutemen with 32 points, while Chris Kirkland had 18. Price's 28 points paced four Musketeers in double digits, followed by Darnell Williams (19), McAfee (15) and West (11).
For a game that turned out to be high-scoring, it didn't start that way. The only basket scored by either team in the first four minutes was a reverse layup by Price, as missed shots and turnovers were the meal's first course.
After an official timeout with 15:57 left, both teams began finding their shooting strokes. The Minutemen pulled ahead by as many as five three times, but Xavier always pulled back even.
Mack and Price seemed to be playing one on one for a stretch. From the 11:04 mark to the 4:34 mark, Mack scored 13 of UMass' 16 points. During the same stretch, Price scored 10 of Xavier's 12 points.
The teams stayed within two points of each other for the final 3:40. Williams sank two free throws with 49.7 seconds left to make it 42-42 at halftime.
The Minutemen travel to the Bronx for a game with Fordham at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
INCINNATI, Ohio - Even Xavier coach Skip Prosser was willing to concede the point.
"If I'm Bruiser (Flint), I look at those stats and I'm frustrated as well," he admitted.
Those stats to which Prosser referred were in the foul- and free-throw columns of the box score. Coaches are rarely satisfied with officiating, but the numbers produced by the team of Rich SanFillipo, Larry Lembo and Buddy Mayborg were staggering. UMass was called for 28 fouls compared with Xavier's 13.
The difference wasn't insignificant. The Musketeers attempted 42 free throws and made 36 of them. They scored fewer field goals from both inside and outside the 3-point line than UMass. Xavier won the game at the free-throw line.
UMass went to the line only 13 times. The Minutemen were never in the double-bonus and never even shot a one-and-one.
Minuteman coach Bruiser Flint said the officials didn't decide the game, but he was clearly frustrated with the discrepancy.
"They shot 29 more foul shots, what can you say?" Flint said. "That's the game right there. In a game you know is going to be physical, because that's the way Xavier plays and that's the way we play, it was 42 free throws to 13. I'm not even asking... but get me to 20 at least. We shot 13. We never got into the one-and-one. Officiating didn't cost us the game, but the other team shoots 42 foul shots in a game like this. What do you say? I'm not going to blame the game on the referee, but I was a little upset."
* * *
Monty Mack's 32 points were a season high, eclipsing his 30 against Florida State and were just two short of his career-high 34, which came last season against College of Charleston. Mack passed Horace Neysmith to move into eighth on UMass' career scoring list, with 1,439 points. The next rung on the ladder is Mike Pyatt, who scored 1,503 from 1974-78.
Mack has led the Minutemen in scoring in 13 of their last 15 games and 16 times overall this year.
* * *
Xavier guard Maurice McAfee took some verbal pokes at UMass forward Mike Babul after Lloyd Price scored 28 points against him.
"Everybody was saying Babul is like the best defender in the Atlantic 10," McAfee said. "Lloyd answered the challenge ... 28 points. That shut everybody up."
* * *
Shannon Crooks' eight assists were a career-high ... This was the first time all year that UMass has lost when scoring more than 70 points. Xavier's 87 points were the most scored by a Minuteman opponent this year. Xavier is now 27-1 in its last 28 home games.
MASSACHUSETTS (77) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Kirkland 37 9-12 0-2 0-2 1 3 18 Babul 32 0-5 0-0 1-3 2 3 0 Rhymer 22 2-3 4-5 3-6 0 4 8 Crooks 34 4-13 0-2 1-3 8 5 9 Mack 38 11-20 4-4 0-1 5 4 32 Oates 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Depina 9 2-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 6 Smith 7 0-2 0-0 1-2 2 3 0 Brand 20 2-5 0-0 1-2 0 5 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 30-62 8-13 7-19 19 28 77 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.484, FT-.615. 3-Point Goals: 9-21, .429 (Crooks 1-6, Mack 6-12, Depina 2-2, Smith 0-1). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Babul, Brand). Turnovers: 13 (Babul 4, Mack 3, Crooks 2, Rhymer 2, Depina, Kirkland). Steals: 8 (Babul 3, Kirkland 2, Mack 2, Crooks). XAVIER (87) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Price 38 7-15 12-14 5-11 0 1 28 Butler 8 1-3 0-0 2-3 0 0 2 West 33 4-8 3-7 3-10 1 2 11 Williams 35 5-8 7-7 0-2 2 3 19 Mcafee 39 2-5 10-10 0-2 5 1 15 Frey 19 1-3 4-4 0-2 0 4 6 Brown 8 1-1 0-0 1-1 1 2 2 Turner 20 2-5 0-0 5-8 1 0 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 23-48 36-42 16-39 10 13 87 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.479, FT-.857. 3-Point Goals: 5-9, .556 (Price 2-4, Williams 2-3, Mcafee 1-2). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 3 (Butler, West, Turner). Turnovers: 19 (Mcafee 6, Butler 3, Williams 3, Price 2, Turner 2, West 2, Frey). Steals: 7 (Mcafee 3, Price 2, West, Williams). __________________________________ Massachusetts 42 35 - 77 Xavier 42 45 - 87 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 10,100. Officials: Rich Sanfillipo, Larry Lembo, Buddy Mayborg.