Coverage from:
The Buffalo News
The Olean Times Herald
The Olean Times Herald - notebook
The Olean Times Herald - column
The Boston Herald
The Boston Herald - notebook
The Springfield Union-News
The Springfield Union-News - notebook
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - notebook


For the record, Bona crushes UMass
By Allen Wilson, The Buffalo News Sports Reporter, 3/5/2000

OLEAN - What a way to end the regular season.

St. Bonaventure gave the rest of the Atlantic 10 something to think about Saturday night with a dominating 86-69 victory over Massachusetts at the Reilly Center.

In addition to strengthening their NCAA Tournament chances, the Bonnies (19-8, 11-5) wrapped up second place in the A-10 East Division and set a school record for conference wins in a season. Their 19 total victories are the most in the Jim Baron era and the most overall since 1982-83.

They also earned a berth in the A-10 Tournament quarterfinals next Thursday against the winner of a first-round matchup between Xavier and Rhode Island. Bona might not be the favorite to win the tournament (Temple holds that distinction), but if it plays like it did Saturday, the idea wouldn't seem too far-fetched.

Consider, too, that the Bonnies are arguably the hottest team in the A-10 right now. They have won six of their last seven games, including three straight for the first time since a six-game streak in January.

"It's a great moment for our players and program," Baron said. "We really focused on defense, we focused on rebounding. We shot the ball well and put the clamps on them defensively. It was an excellent team effort."

The Bonnies' offense was crisp and virtually error-free for most of the evening. They shot 53.4 percent from the field, made 7 of 12 from three-point range, scored 38 points in the paint, outscored the Minutemen, 14-0, in fastbreak points and owned a 50-34 rebounding advantage.

Bona's defense also did its part, holding UMass (15-14, 9-7) to 31.7 percent from the field. What little offense the Minutemen were able to muster came from the perimeter on 10 three-pointers. When they were able to get the ball inside, a Bona defender was there to contest the shot.

"They've been playing well all season, so I wasn't surprised," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said of Bona. "They shot well, they rebounded. They did whatever they wanted. They showed why they're one of the best teams in the A-10."

The sellout crowd of 6,000 came out early to honor seniors Tim Winn, David Messiah Capers and Caswell Cyrus. The trio didn't disappoint. Winn scored 18 points, Messiah Capers added 15 and Cyrus had 10 rebounds to go with eight points.

But the star of the show was junior center Peter Van Paassen, who produced career-highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds. UMass didn't have an answer for him inside as he scored easily every time he planted himself under the basket.

"I was pretty good back in Dutch Junior League," Van Paassen deadpanned when asked if this was his best performance. "Numbers-wise, of course it is. I just felt so in sync with the rest of the team and was able to produce."

A close game was blown open when sophomore guard J.R. Bremer (11 points) hit two three-pointers during a 13-2 run that gave Bona a 27-12 lead with 9:08 left in the first half.

For the second straight game, the Bonnies got off to a torrid start. They hit 9 of their first 12 shots and 16 of 29 overall (55.2 percent) to build a 38-24 lead at the break.

"The five (starters) that were out on the floor set the tone for the whole game," Messiah Capers said. "They let everybody know that we were going to come out and play our hardest, and if UMass was going to try to beat us they would have to play harder than us."

Three bombs by Winn and some strong low-post offense by Van Paassen helped Bona's lead swell to 60-34 early in the second half. The Bonnies' defensive intensity remained at a high level as they held the Minutemen without a field goal for the first eight minutes of the half.

Bona led by as many as 29 points before guards Monty Mack (28 points) and Jonathan Depina (11 points) sparked a late run to make the final score a little more respectable.

While the NCAA Tournament is on their minds, the Bonnies' immediate thoughts turned to the upcoming week.

"The Atlantic 10 Tournament is where we are right now," Winn said. "I like our odds in that tournament. We have to go in with that attitude or else we'll go home a lot earlier than we want."


For Bonnies, this win's as good as a bye
By Brian Moritz, The Olean Times Herald, 3/5/2000

ST. BONAVENTURE — They say no one ever remembers who finished in second place.

But St. Bonaventure men’s basketball fans will never forget who finished second in the Atlantic 10 East in 1999-2000.

Behind a career-game by Peter Van Paassen, the Bonnies rolled to an 86-69 win over Massachusetts in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,000 at the Reilly Center on Saturday night.

The win gives the Bonnies (19-8, 11-5) sole possession of second place in the A-10 East Division and a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament. It also keeps alive the team’s hopes for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.

“I think it’s a great moment for our players, our program,” said Bona coach Jim Baron. “It’s nice to be in that position, with all the things we’ve done through the years.”

The win also sends seniors Tim Winn, David Messiah Capers and Caswell Cyrus off with a victory in their final regular-season game at the RC.

The Bonnies will face the winner of the Xavier-Rhode Island game on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in the First Union Spectrum at Philadelphia in the A-10 Tournament’s quarterfinals.

To earn their sixth victory in their last eight games, the Bonnies used a solid all-around game to dispatch the Minutemen (15-14, 9-7).

And for the Bonnies, that offense started under the basket.

As in Bona’s 70-60 win over UMass at the Mullins’ Center in January, the Bonnies owned the paint, outscoring the Minutemen, 38-16.

Leading the way for the Bonnies down low was Van Paassen. On senior night, the junior owned the building, scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, also a career best.

“I wouldn’t say it’s my best game ever, because I played some pretty good games with the Dutch Junior Team,” Van Paassen said with a laugh. “Numbers-wise, of course, it was my best game. But I’ve had games like this when I’ve felt so in synch with the rest of the team.”

Van Paassen scored 17 of his points in the second half to help the Bonnies build a 29-point lead. Four of his baskets came while he was being fouled, and he converted three for three-point plays. For the game, Van Paassen was 8-of-13 from the field and 9-of-16 from the line.

“I think Peter’s been preparing himself to have a game like this,” Baron said. “They were keying on Cy, and had to put a (power forward) on Peter. He started manhandling people. He played strong but smart.”

In addition to Van Paassen’s dominance, Cyrus had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Bona’s strong post presence opened up the rest of the floor for the team’s guards. The Bonnies shot 53 percent from the field for the game, and hit 7-of-12 three-pointers.

“That’s the key to our offense,” Winn said. “I’m the general, but when those guys down low are playing well, the other team can’t key on me. I don’t have to put any extra pressure on myself. I don’t have to do anything except set those guys up.”

Bona’s outside shooting produced a 13-2 run midway though the first half to build a 15-point lead.

“It was real important,” Capers said. “The five on the floor really set the tone. If UMass was going to even try to beat us, they would have had to play harder.”

Offensively, UMass was the polar opposite of the Bonnies. The Minutemen shot an anemic 27 percent in the first half, hitting just seven field goals. They hit 32 percent for the game.

“We struggled at times,” said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. “You have to be able to put the ball in the basket when you have the opportunity.”

UMass struggled to score all game.

“We were right at the basket,” Flint lamented. “You can’t get any better looks.”

UMass guard Monty Mack led all scorers with 28 points, however, he shot just 9-of-25 from the field.

Capers guarded Mack most of the evening and held the all-conference candidate in check.

“He’s a great player,” Capers said. “He’s so deceiving because he’s seen a lot of defenses. You can’t cheat on him, you have to play him honest. You shoot the ball 25 times, you’re going to hit some.”

When UMass missed, the Bonnies usually grabbed the rebound, dominating the boards, 50-34.

“Coming in to the game, we wanted to focus on defense and on rebounding the basketball,” Baron said.

Winn had 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting for the Bonnies, Capers added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists and J.R. Bremer had 11 points and six rebounds.

“All the cylinders were clicking tonight,” Winn said.

The win is a milestone for the Bona program and the 19 victories are the most by a St. Bonaventure team since the 1982-83 team won 20 games.

Bona’s 11 A-10 wins are a school record, one better than the 1982-83 squad.

“You have to keep looking at what’s ahead of you, not what’s behind you,” Baron said. “We know we’ve got a lot of basketball left.


Reilly Rowdies find a new foe
By Brian Moritz, The Olean Times Herald, 3/5/2000

ST. BONAVENTURE - The Reilly Rowdies have a new opposing player they love to hate.

UMass guard Shannon Crooks.

Crooks got on the crowd’s bad side for nearly getting into a fight with St. Bonaventure center Caswell Cyrus in the first half of Bona’s 86-69 win over the Minutemen on Saturday.

Crooks said Cyrus elbowed him in the mouth.

The two stood face-to-face near halfcourt and exchanged heated words for about 10 seconds before being separated.

No fouls were called on the play, and UMass coach Bruiser Flint briefly took Crooks out of the game.

For the rest of the contest, the Reilly Center crowd booed Crooks every time he touched the ball.

Crooks finished the game with four points and shot just 2-of-12 from the field, missing several layups.

Other leftover stats, facts and figures from Saturday’s game:

- Bona swept the season-series with UMass for the first time since 1985-86. The Bonnies have won three consecutive games against the Minutemen at the Reilly Center.

- The 17-point margin of victory was not the largest for the Bonnies in the series. Bona won by 24 points, 104-80, back in 1981.

- UMass played without reserve center Micha Brand. The freshman did not make the trip due to a case of pneumonia. Brand had been averaging four points and three rebounds per game.

- The Minutemen’s three-game losing streak matches their season-high.

- Both teams scored 11 points off the other’s turnovers. The Bonnies committed 16 giveaways, while UMass had 10.

- Bona outscored the Minutemen on fast-break points, 14-0. Two of those came on a beautiful alley-oop between seniors Tim Winn and David Messiah Capers.

- Kitwana Rhymer grabbed 13 rebounds for UMass.

- The Reilly Rowdies and a small bunch of UMass fans got into a humorous exchange of chants midway through the first half.

Bona fans started chanting “fire Bruiser” toward the UMass coach. Minutemen fans responded with, “Throw a cookie.”

The Rowdies, though, had the best and classiest chant of the night. When Baron removed Winn with 25.2 seconds left, Bona fans chanted “Thank you, seniors.”

The UMass fans stood and applauded the Bona star as well.


Bonnies send a message for NCAA tourney
By John Anderson, The Olean Times Herald Staff Writer, 3/5/2000

ST. BONAVENTURE - With two minutes left, the fans started exiting the tunnels of the Reilly Center.

Peter Van Paassen had just put St. Bonaventure up by 21.

The fact this was the first time Bona’s men’s basketball team had swept UMass since the 1985-86 season, the fact the Minutemen had swept eight straight series until 1996-97 and the fact it was Bona’s third biggest margin of victory ever over Massachusetts didn’t seem to matter.

What was important was the fact it was time to let the basketball world know this team is worthy of making the NCAA Tournament.

It’s nice to be in a position now (after) all the things we’ve done over the years — a schedule that’s extremely competitive — playing Charlotte, going to a tournament in California and winning that, going down to Florida, playing against a USC, and playing against some of the other teams with a winning record,” said Bona coach Jim Baron.

Then, the tournament lobbying continued.

“Even the teams we lost to, Fordham is .500 now, so I think we worked very hard to get to this point,” Baron said. “I hope that some of the people on the (selection) committee and some of the people in our league understand the magnitude of how we had to get here (19-8).

“And, we had to go through our league ... we beat Temple, we beat Xavier, we beat UMass.

“You have to win outside your league and you have to do it inside your league and I think we’ve been able to do both,” he continued. “Under the circumstances that we’re under here at St. Bonaventure, traveling the way we have to travel, trying to get home games and trying to get teams that are going to come back and us going on the road — it’s a little bit of a balancing act to try to get it done. And to have 19 wins with this situation...”

UMass coach Bruiser Flint didn’t have to be convinced.

“Without question, they should get in, they should be in,” he said of Bona’s NCAA Tournament chances. “They’ve had a great year and they’ve beaten some good teams.”

Baron’s post-season tournament talk was provoked by his pride is what the Bonnies have achieved.

“I’ll tell you what, the magnitude of these teams coming in is incredible, I cant even begin to talk about them,” Baron said. “These are programs that are among, and playing against, the best in the nation.

“So it’s a tremendous accomplishment. But it goes back to these guys: they believe in us, believe in our system. The guys have heart, faced adversity, stayed focused, worked harder and never got their head down.

“You put an exclamation point on this, but we know we’ve got a lot of basketball to play,” he maintained.

The players wouldn’t talk about the postseason, just a desire to win the Atlantic 10 tournament, which would earn Bona an automatic bid.

With the sweep of UMass, the power shift may have started, as the Bonnies have won four-of-five from the once unbeatable Minutemen.

A team so good, this paper devoted almost an entire front page to a loss in 1994.

“(Former UMass stars) Lou Roe, Marcus Camby, Tyrone Weeks — those are the reasons I wanted to come to St. Bonaventure, to play against these players,” said Van Paassen.

This off season, Flint may be telling recruits of the chance to play against Van Paassen, Bremer and Prato.


UMass stumbles again: Sleeps through 17-point loss to Bonnies
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 3/5/2000

OLEAN, N.Y. - A season's worth of frustration took a very loud turn last night.

Chris Kirkland, a true gentleman 99 percent of the time, walked to the sideline during a timeout with 7:41 left and kicked a chair. He then plopped down several seats away from his teammates.

UMass was hurtling toward its third straight loss - an 86-69 yawner at the hands of 19-8 St. Bonaventure - and a 15-14 record.

Kirkland's kick summed up a lot of feelings on this team. They shot 32 percent from the floor. They didn't make a basket over the first 7:08 of the second half. Monty Mack scored 28 points, but shot a painful 9-of-25 to get that far.

More pain? How about a 2-for-12, five-point game from Shannon Crooks, or Kirkland, who was miserable with his strange nine-point, 0-for-3, three-turnover stat line. How about a 19-for-29 (.655) effort from the free-throw line, or St. Bonaventure's 50-34 rebounding edge.

By game's end the St. Bonaventure crowd was chanting ``You can't win here,'' and UMass coach Bruiser Flint wasn't one to disagree.

UMass hasn't won in the Reilly Center since 1997, when Edgar Padilla, Carmelo Travieso and Tyrone Weeks - now a Bonnies assistant coach - were in uniform.

``We struggled at times, and couldn't make a foul shot,'' said Flint. ``We had a chance in the first half to cut it down with free throws, and we didn't.''

UMass shot 3-of-6 from the line over the last 4:26 of the first half, which ended in a 38-24 St. Bonaventure lead.

Freshman center Micah Brand, who is being treated in Amherst for pneumonia, was sorely missed.

Bonnies center Peter Van Paassen had it his way all night with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting, to go along with 15 rebounds - seven on the offensive glass.

Van Paassen's inside work, coupled with Caswell Cyrus' baseline offense, would push the Minutemen out of the paint and, ultimately, the game in the second half.

The Dutch center scored six points to fill out an 8-1 St. Bonaventure run early in the second half, with Cyrus chipping in a demoralizing back-door dunk.

Tim Winn then added some space with a pair of treys - the second for a 52-28 Bonaventure lead with 15:04 left.

Mack finally curled out to the corner to hit a 3-pointer with 12:52 left for the Minutemen's first field goal of the second half. The shot also cut the Bonaventure lead to 57-34. The Bonaventure lead hit a peak of 29 points (69-40) with 9:49 left. Though the Minutemen cut this margin down to 15 points, their evening was sealed.

UMass notes

Conference tournaments offer salvation. For UMass, this week's A-10 tournament also offers a lifeline. As a result of last night's loss, the Minutemen now need at least one win to receive an NIT berth.

Considering that they open on Wednesday against Duquesne - a team they beat, 84-75, in Pittsburgh on Jan. 27 - it's a realistic goal. If they win, they play George Washington in the quarterfinals.

Flint has to yank his team out of a three-game losing streak, which ties their longest losing stretch of the season.

``I told the guys that we've bounced back before, and we'll do it now,'' said Flint. ``We could have been beat by 40 tonight, but we fought our way back into the game because we play hard. Hey, the tournament gives you another chance. Look at Central Florida. They were 10-18, and they played for their conference (tournament) title today.'' . . .

Brand has been listed as questionable for action in the A-10 tournament this week. . . .

Winn, the Bonnies senior from Niagara Falls who passed up chances to play basketball at Georgia Tech and Seton Hall because he wanted to stay close to home, played what was probably his last game in the Reilly Center.

The 5-9 point guard is the only player in St. Bonaventure history with more than 1,000 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 300 steals. Counting last night's 18-point performance, he has 1,358 points, 428 assists, 381 rebounds and 305 steals.


Winn punctuates career with a win
UMass notebook
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 3/5/2000

OLEAN, N.Y. - Another late season game, another senior night.

UMass can't seem to avoid road games where the other team is honoring its seniors.

Last night, that meant watching the St. Bonaventure crowd blow their final kisses to Tim Winn, the senior from Niagara Falls who passed up chances to play basketball at schools such as Georgia Tech and Seton Hall because he wanted to stay close to home.

The 5-foot-9 point guard went into last night's game as the only player in St. Bonaventure history with over 1,000 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 300 steals. As of last night, he had 1,340 points, 426 assists, 377 rebounds and 304 steals.

Coach Jim Baron, who has one of the most difficult recruiting jobs in the nation when it comes to selling greater Olean on aspiring athletes, can't imagine the last four years without his point guard.

``What he's done is incredible,'' said Baron. ``With a player who has that kind of across-the-board production, all you need for him to do is pump gas, because he's doing it all. He's one of the best to ever come through here, in my opinion.''

For Baron's money, Winn has been even more vital to St. Bonaventure's welfare this season than Pepe Sanchez' value to Temple.

``It's the way that he makes our other guys better,'' said Baron. ``We don't get high-profile players up here, so we have to find ways for the guys we have, and our team, to overachieve as much as possible. A kid like Tim helps you with that if only because of his intensity.

``He just wants to win, and he's willing to make any sacrifice necessary to do that. It's been a lot of fun coaching him.''

Questionable Brand

Freshman Micah Brand, the talented freshman center who has had great success relieving the often foul-prone Kitwana Rhymer this season, has been listed as questionable for this week's Atlantic 10 tournament.

He was still in a UMass infirmary yesterday, receiving treatment for pneumonia.

Brand had told the coaching staff he felt ill following a Thursday practice. He was later found to have a 104-degree temperature, and was rushed over for treatment. Senior Anthony Oates was expected to log some of his heaviest time of the season last night as a result.

Monty Mack went into last night's game in seventh place on the all-time UMass scoring list with 1,509 career points.


Minutemen fall into A-10 tourney
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 3/5/2000

OLEAN, N.Y. The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team is still banging on the NIT door, unable to get inside for sure. It's been that way for a week, and both time and opportunities are running out.

It got ugly last night at the Reilly Center, when second place in the Atlantic 10 Conference East Division slipped away in disappointing but not unexpected fashion. With a humbling 86-69 loss to St. Bonaventure before a capacity crowd of 6,000, UMass closed its regular season with three straight losses matching its season high and will take a 15-14 record into the Atlantic 10 tournament.

For the fourth straight season, the Minutemen finished third in the East, going 9-7 in the A-10 to set up Wednesday's 2 p.m. first-rounder against Duquesne (10-17, 4-12) at the First Union Spectrum in Philadelphia.

Peter Van Paassen scored a career-high 25 points for St. Bonaventure (19-8, 11-5), who led by as many as 29 in the second half (69-40). The 6-foot-11 junior also set a career high with 15 rebounds.

Photo
Tim Winn hooks around Shannon Crooks.
The Bonnies' guards were also dominant. Tim Winn scored 18 points and David Messiah Capers 15 in their final home games, and J.R. Bremer added 11.

"We struggled at times," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said in understatement. "And St. Bonaventure has been playing well all season. I wasn't surprised by that tonight."

"I was concerned going into the game, but this was an excellent team effort," Bonnies coach Jim Baron said. "I think these things go in cycles. We've tried to learn from other teams in our league, and UMass has been one of them."

Monty Mack shot only 9 of 25, but scored 28 points to lead UMass, moving Mack into sixth place on the school's all-time list with 1,537. He passed Harper Williams, who scored 1,534.

Jonathan DePina scored 11 points (tying his season high) for UMass, and Chris Kirkland had nine, but Kirkland went scoreless from the floor. Shannon Crooks shot 2 for 12 and is 8 for 36 in his last two games.

UMass was also outscored 38-16 in the paint and 14-0 on fast-break points. The Minutemen even had trouble with layups, with Crooks among the culprits.

"Shannon is pressing," Flint said. "He's trying to win these games by himself."

By guaranteeing at least a .500 season, UMass already has won enough games to qualify for NIT consideration. But the late skid means the Minutemen are walking a very fine line on the way to the selection meeting.

St. Bonaventure (19-8, 11-5), which improved to 11-2 at home and has won 19 games for the first time since 1983, captured second place in the East and is hunting for bigger prizes. The Bonnies swept UMass this season, have won five of their last six and are back in the NCAA tournament picture.

Last night, they led 38-24 at halftime and then held UMass without a field goal for the first 7:08 of the second half, when they built a 57-31 lead.

UMass managed only seven field goals in the first half. The Bonnies jumped to a 7-0 lead and built it to 27-12 on Bremer's 3-pointer.

UMass was without backup center Micah Brand, who stayed home with pneumonia.


Illness leaves void in middle
UMass notebook
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 3/5/2000

OLEAN, N.Y. Micah Brand's bout with pneumonia kept him out of last night's men's basketball game between the University of Massachusetts and St. Bonaventure, but UMass coach Bruiser Flint is hopeful his freshman center will be back for the Atlantic 10 tournament.

"We think he'll be back next week," Flint said after last night's 86-69 loss at St. Bonaventure. "We don't know yet, though."

Brand stayed home with his illness this weekend, and earlier yesterday, trainer Ron Laham sounded more cautious about the 6-foot-11 player's chances.

"It's questionable right now," Laham said. "His condition came on very suddenly."

UMass plays Duquesne in Wednesday's first round at First Union Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Minutemen beat the Dukes in last year's first round, and also won 84-75 at Duquesne this season.

Brand's absence is significant, even though he doesn't start. He is the first backup to starting center Kitwana Rhymer, and his illness leaves Anthony Oates as the only true reserve center. Oates played only one minute last night, while Rhymer tied his career high with 38 minutes.

HI, TY:

Former UMass forward Tyrone Weeks says life has been good as a St. Bonaventure assistant. Weeks' first coaching season has received solid reviews, especially for his work with Caswell Cyrus and Peter Van Paassen, the Bonnies' well-regarded big men.

ONE UP, ONE DOWN:

Jonathan DePina (11 points, three assists, four rebounds in 21 minutes) played what Flint called the best game of his UMass career. The junior guard went 3 for 7 on 3-pointers.

On the downside, Chris Kirkland went 0 for 3 from the floor, scored all nine of his points on free throws, and managed only five rebounds. Flint sat him down for six minutes in the second half.

"I told him he had to rebound," Flint said. "He said the refs weren't calling the over-the-back call. I just wanted to have him take a break."

DOOR OPENS:

With five wins in six games, St. Bonaventure's NCAA tournament hopes are back on the rise.

Flint thinks the Bonnies should be in the field.

"No question," he said. "They should be in already."

ET CETERA:

Shannon Crooks was hooted by St. Bonaventure's raucous fans after a nose-to-chest staring match with Bonnies center Caswell Cyrus in the first half. Cyrus, at 6-9, is 7 inches taller.

"Shannon said the guy elbowed him in the mouth," Flint said. No fouls were called.

ET CETERA:

UMass was the only Atlantic 10 team to win at Virginia Tech this year . . . UMass' 269 steals leads the A-10 . . . Hardly anyone noticed, but UMass hit seven of 12 3-pointers (58.3 percent) in the second half.


UMass plays Dukes in tourney
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/6/2000

ALLEGANY, N.Y. - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team fell behind St. Bonaventure quickly and substantially and was never really in the game after the first 10 minutes as they were routed by the Bonnies, 86-69, here Saturday night.

Photo
Chris Kirkland looks for options.
"Give the Bonnies credit," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "They played well tonight and we struggled. They're a good team and they've had a good year."

The victory game the Bonnies (19-8, 11-5 A-10) second place in the Atlantic 10 and the bye in the first round of the conference tournament. The Minutemen finished third and will face Duquesne in the first round on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Flint thinks St. Bonaventure (19-8, 11-5 A-10) should be a lock for at least an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.

"They should be in without question," Flint said. "They've had a great year and beaten some great teams."

SBU torched UMass (15-14, 9-7 A-10) from behind the arc, hitting seven of 12 three-point attempts, a clip of 58.3 percent. Perennial UMass killer Peter Van Paassen dismantled the Minuteman inside again with career highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds. Tim Winn added 18 and David Messiah Capers chipped in 15. The Bonnies shot 53.4 from the field.

The Minutemen were conversely miserable on offense, shooting 31.7 percent. A large portion of those missed shots came from within close as Chris Kirkland (0-for-3), Kitwana Rhymer (1-for-8) and Shannon Crooks (2-for-12) all struggled in the paint.

Their free throw shooting wasn't much better as UMass hit just 19-of-29 free throws.

"We struggled. We shot 31 percent and we couldn't make a free throw," Flint said. "We got some close looks at the basket, but we couldn't knock them in. Shannon is pressing. He's trying to win the game by himself."

Kirkland was so upset with his own play that he kicked a chair when he came to the UMass bench for a timeout.

"He was frustrated," Flint said. "He wasn't playing well. He said the referees weren't calling the over-the-back."

Monty Mack led the Minutemen with 28 points, while Jonathan DePina had a season-high 11. Rhymer had 13 rebounds before fouling out.

"I told Jonathan DePina that I thought he played the best game he's ever played here," Flint said. "That's what I've been looking for."

St. Bonaventure hit eight of its first 11 shots while building a 21-10 lead. The Bonnies' shooting cooled off a little but they still extended their lead to 38-24 at intermission.

Bad got worse for UMass in the second half. After one free throw by Kirkland, the Bonnies scored eight straight points to lead 46-25.

UMass couldn't get anything to drop with no points from the field in the second half until 7:09 had elapsed. By that time the home team led, 57-34. Bona pulled ahead by as many as 29, but the Minutemen outscored the Bonnies 29-17 in the final 9:48 to make the margin a little more manageable, but it was much too late.

"We've been able to bounce back after some tough losses before," Flint said. "We just have to do it again. If we play hard we'll be fine. We just have to knock down some shots. We're going to play hard every night."


Minutemen familiar third in East
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/6/2000

ALLEGANY, N.Y. - The Atlantic 10 men's basketball tournament field is complete, and the University of Massachusetts will find itself in a familiar situation at the First Union Spectrum in Philadelphia.

For the fourth straight year, the Minutemen finished third in the Atlantic 10 East, which gives them a 2 p.m. Wednesday match-up with West No. 6 Duquesne. UMass defeated Duquesne 84-75 Jan. 27.

The winner will face West No. 2 George Washington, which has a first-round bye. In three of the last four years, the Colonials have defeated the Minutemen in the tournament's second round.

The tournament's events begin Tuesday night with the postseason awards banquet. Games begin Wednesday.

First round action will feature: West No. 4 Virginia Tech (West No. 4) vs. Fordham (East No. 5) at noon, UMass (E-3) vs. Duquesne (W-6) at 2:30 p.m., St. Joseph's (E-4) vs. La Salle (W-6) at 7 p.m. and Xavier (W-3) vs. Rhode Island (E-6).

Temple, St. Bonaventure, Dayton and George Washington all have first round byes.

UMass coach Bruiser Flint was optimistic about starting fresh in postseason.

"The tournament gives you another chance," Flint said. "It gives you a chance to go to the NCAA."

* * *

The Minutemen hope to have freshman center Micah Brand back for the A-10 toruney. The athletic big man missed Saturday's loss due to pneumonia, but Flint was optimistic about his availability.

"We think he'll be ready," Flint said.

* * *

Monty Mack continued his ascension up the UMass career scoring chart, passing Harper Williams to move into sixth place with 1,537 career points. Next up is No. 5 Donald Russell with 1,558 career points.

Mack leads the Minutemen at 19.7 points per game this year.

* * *

Jonathan DePina's 11 points Saturday marked just the second time this season he's reached double digits. He had 11 in the season opener against Iona. His career high was 15 against Cincinnati as a freshman.

DePina actually leads UMass in 3-point percentage at 42.5 (17-for-40).


Massachusetts Minutemen 69
St. Bonaventure Bonnies 86
at St. Bonaventure

MASSACHUSETTS (69)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Kirkland        34   0-3  9-14   0-5  0  1    9
Babul           18   2-2   0-0   1-2  2  1    4
Rhymer          38   1-8   5-6  4-13  1  5    7
Mack            36  9-25   4-4   2-4  0  3   28
Crooks          36  2-12   1-3   3-3  4  3    5
Oates            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  2    0
Depina          21  4-10   0-2   1-4  3  4   11
Blizzard         6   2-2   0-0   0-0  0  3    5
Smith           10   0-1   0-0   2-3  0  2    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 20-63 19-29 13-34 10 24   69
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.317, FT-.655. 3-Point Goals:
10-23, .435 (Mack 6-12, Crooks 0-3, Depina 3-7,
Blizzard 1-1). Team rebounds: None. Blocked
shots: 1 (Rhymer). Turnovers: 10 (Kirkland 3,
Depina 2, Mack 2, Crooks, Rhymer, Smith). Steals:
7 (Mack 2, Babul, Blizzard, Depina, Kirkland,
Smith).

ST BONAVENTURE (86)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Messiah Capers  31  6-10   2-4   1-4  4  1   15
Van Paassen     30  8-13  9-16  7-15  1  3   25
Cyrus           30  4-12   0-0  1-10  0  5    8
Winn            37   6-8   3-4   0-4  2  2   18
Prato           22   2-3   3-4   1-6  5  2    7
V Massiah        7   1-1   0-0   0-2  0  2    2
Cheeks          13   0-2   0-0   1-1  0  3    0
Bremer          25   4-7   0-0   1-6  4  2   11
Dziengeleski     1   0-0   0-0   0-1  1  0    0
Siegrist         4   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Rucker           0   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 31-58 17-28 12-50 17 20   86
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.534, FT-.607. 3-Point Goals:
7-12, .583 (Messiah Capers 1-2, Winn 3-5, Prato
0-1, Bremer 3-4). Team rebounds: None. Blocked
shots: 1 (Van Paassen). Turnovers: 16 (Winn 5,
Messiah Capers 3, Prato 2, Bremer, Cheeks, Cyrus,
Dziengeleski, Siegrist, Van Paassen). Steals: 5
(Cheeks, Siegrist, V Massiah, Van Paassen, Winn).
__________________________________
Massachusetts      24   45  -   69
St Bonaventure     38   48  -   86
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 6,000. Officials: Merv
Shapiro, Carl Labranche, Ken Clark.

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