AYTON | The University of Dayton Flyers sent a strong message to their Atlantic 10 Conference adversaries Tuesday night.
The Flyers, who have been given up for dead in the A-10 race, pounded first-place Massachusetts, 89-76, in front of 13,408 howling spectators at UD Arena, stopping the Minutemen's six-game winning streak.
Senior center Yuanta Holland, who lost his starting job three games ago, came off the bench to score 18 points and spark Dayton to its first victory over one of the A-10 contenders this season.
Eric Williams allows Tony Stanley an easy path to the hoop.
"This is an important game for us in so many ways that I can't list them all," said UD coach Oliver Purnell, who later elaborated that it was a confidence-builder that moved the Flyers a step closer to their goal of peaking late in the season and getting a first-round bye in the A-10 tournament.
It was the fourth victory in the last six games for Dayton, now 14-9 overall and 5-5 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, and it moved the Flyers into fifth place in the A-10.
Massachusetts (10-11, 8-2), hadn't lost since the game before it defeated Dayton, 62-57, in Amherst.
In that game, the Flyers were beaten because the Massachusetts big men dominated the Dayton post players, but this time the UD front-liners turned the tables on them. Holland, Nate Green and Keith Waleskowski attacked the UMass basket, drawing personal fouls that got center Kitwana Rhymer and forward Micah Brand in foul trouble to soften the visitors' defense.
Keith Waleskowski rips down a rebound.
Tony Stanley scored 17 points, Ramod Marshall had nine and David Morris added eight as UD attacked the basket all night and played solid defense after struggling early in the game.
But it was Holland who provided the big lift.
"Tonight he was a man in there," Purnell said. "He wanted the ball. He went and got it. He was quick with his moves and he was elevating on his jump shot. He was the guy we know and love."
Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint was so upset with the proceedings that he rode official Phil Bova most of the night and received two technical fouls and an automatic ejection. Flint's first technical was a costly one.
UMass was trailing, 74-61, with 2:51 remaining. And if the Minutemen had a miraculous finish in mind, Flint short-circuited it by drawing his technical.
He kept carping at Bova and received his second technical at with 1:29 remaining and his team trailing, 85-68.
"We played hard,' Green said. "We played hard for 40 minutes instead of 20 minutes. The first time we didn't attack 'em; this time our goal was to go inside and out. When we didn't have anything inside, we kicked it outside and it worked."
Sophomore Brooks Hall returned to the court and played 17 minutes, making one timely 3-point shot. But he limped off the floor late in the game after getting kneed on his injured leg when he tried to split the Massachusetts defense.
"It felt good out there tonight," Hall said, with his leg in a bucket of ice water.
Waleskowski had another solid game.
"We wanted to take it inside to them and work on getting them in foul trouble like we did but we also wanted to keep it out of the post," he said. "Rhymer hurt us last game and we were trying hard as we could not to let him touch the ball and throw off their secondary (offense)."
Rhymer, the 6-foot-10 center who scored 19 points in the first Dayton-UMass game, was held to five.
Monty Mack and Brand led UMass in scoring, with 23 points apiece.
AYTON | He said it all boiled down to one word:
Yuanta Holland takes it strong to Micah Brand.
The Dayton Flyers especially Holland got it Tuesday night as they overpowered Massachusetts, 89-76, at UD Arena. The difference in the game was the way the Flyers under-sized front line manhandled the towering wall of flesh UMass sets up inside.
Since conference play began last month, the Minutemen have been the hottest team in the Atlantic 10. They had won eight of their last nine games, thanks, mainly, to 6-foot-11 Micah Brand, 6-foot-10 Kitwana Rhymer, the conference's best shot blocker and seventh best rebounder, and 6-foot-8, 243-pound Eric Williams.
Against the Flyers, that trio combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds. Dayton, in return, countered with 6-8 freshman stringbean Keith Waleskowski, 6-7 Holland and 6-6 Nate Green and got 50 points and 16 rebounds.
Holland who made 7 of 9 shots for 18 points in just 23 minutes turned in the most impressive performance. He has been struggling of late and Tuesday night marked the fourth game in a row coach Oliver Purnell had not started him.
The demotion after starting 19 straight was linked to Holland's poor outings in the first UMass game on Jan. 18 and at St. Bonaventure and Fordham two weeks ago.
"After that UMass game I lost my confidence," Holland admitted. "Then when I lost my starting spot. I started to get down even more. Everything was on my mind. I was worried about playing poorly. I was worrying about my grades. I need to graduate on time this spring, so I can get another year back (from the NCAA) and play next year. On the court things and a lot of little personal things all kind of came together and I just wasn't the same."
Against St. Bonaventure and Fordham, Holland had a total of just 10 points and four rebounds. It was obvious to everyone this wasn't the same guy who opened the season with 24 points in the upset of Connecticut, had 20 points and nine boards against Marshall, went 13 and 13 against Cincinnati and scored the game winning basket against Marquette.
The first to try getting Holland back on course was his grandfather, 6-foot-6, 300 Uriah Holland. Once he was a hoop star at Roosevelt High, now he's simply "Granddaddy."
"He pulled me aside before the Xavier game and told me to take these guys off the dribble because inside I was too quick for them," Holland said. "He reminded me of a couple moves I wasn't doing any more. He didn't mess around. He was pretty firm about it."
A few days later Purnell sat Holland down in his office and had a heart to heart talk with his senior center.
"We talked about what was bothering me, then coach told me I needed to put all that out of mind when I stepped on the court,"Holland said. "He told me I was athletic. That I needed to quit over-thinking and just go out and play like I could."
Practicing for UMass the past two days, Holland was a second teamer, which meant he had to simulate the Minutemen's inside game for the starters. "They made me Rhymer, so I just roughed the guys up in practice," he said with a grin. "I fouled them, pushed them, bumped them and if they cried about it, I did it again. We had to get ready for these guys and our big men were the key. Our focus was inside, inside, inside."
Holland started the game on the bench, which meant he was sitting next to Brooks Hall, who was just coming off a stress fracture of his left leg. "The whole time we were sitting there, Brooks was feeding stuff in my ear," Holland said. "He kept telling me, 'When we get in there, I'm gonna feed you the ball...Then you go to work with it.'"
That's just what Holland did.
Against the UMass tall timber, he used the drop step, the side step...the backstep. He would shimmy off a bunch of fakes to get the big men off their feet, he would loft little scoop shots under their wingspans and every now and then he'd simply out-muscle them.
With Green and Waleskowski doing the same, UMass was overwhelmed inside. "They just took it to us down there," said Minuteman coach Bruiser Flint.
All three of the UMass big men were in foul trouble...as was Flint.
He rode referee Phil Bova most of the night and finally when the game was out of reach, he worked double time to get a pair of technicals called and get himself tossed from the game.
It was theatrics. It was also throwing in the towel.
"I think we did our job tonight," Holland said. "I felt good about it. I wanted the ball tonight. I demanded it. For once, everything worked for me."
Then he smiled: "Well, not everything. Granddaddy told me to use the hook shot. I didn't try it tonight. I'm saving that for next game."
ith 9 minutes left in last night's men's basketball game at Dayton, University of Massachusetts guard Shannon Crooks thought he'd put the defensive clamps on Tony Stanley.
But the Flyers' guard squared up and swished a tough, contested 3-point shot anyway, giving Dayton a 15-point lead. Crooks could only roll his eyes, and that reaction pretty much summed up how it went for UMass in an 89-76 loss at raucous UD Arena.
"Dayton played hard and took it to us," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint, who was ejected after picking up his second technical foul with 1:29 left. "Their big guys went right at us in the post."
The six-game UMass winning streak came to a screeching halt before 13,408 fans 47 short of a sellout. The Minutemen (10-11, 8-2 Atlantic 10 Conference) fell out of a first-place tie in the A-10 with Xavier (8-1 A-10), which plays at St. Joseph's (7-1) tonight.
The loss spoiled a milestone night for UMass guard Monty Mack, who hit two free throws with 2:31 left to reach the career 2,000-point mark. Mack had 23 points last night and has 2,003, trailing only Jim McCoy (2,374) in UMass annals.
But Dayton (14-9, 5-5) went on a 33-14 run in the final 10:30 of the first half for a 43-31 lead at the break. Senior forward Yuanta Holland scored 18 points and Stanley scored 17 for Dayton, which shot 54.2 percent from the floor and knocked down 32 of 40 free throws.
Freshman Keith Waleskowski who replaced Holland in the starting lineup four games ago and forward Nate Green scored 16 apiece as the Flyers reversed the inside domination UMass had shown in a 62-57 win at Amherst Jan. 18. Dayton owned a 34-26 rebounding edge, with Waleskowski grabbing eight.
It was all too frustrating for Flint, who was ejected with the Minutemen losing 83-67. Flint's first technical came with 2:51 left.
"I'll take it up with the league," said Flint, who picked up his first two technicals this season. "I don't want to get any more into it, because I don't want to take anything away from the way Dayton played."
Forward Micah Brand scored a career-high 23 points for UMass, but the Minutemen were outscored 40-26 in the paint. The interior matchups were supposed to work in UMass' favor, as they had in January, but it didn't happen that way.
UMass wasn't helped when center Kitwana Rhymer committed two fouls in the first 4 minutes and sat for the rest of the half. Rhymer had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the first game against Dayton.
Brand had 13 first-half points for UMass, which led 17-10 before Dayton took command.
"You've got to give all the credit to Dayton," Brand said. "It came down to rebounding and points in the paint, which was the problem earlier this season. We lost both, and we lost the game.
"It wasn't a question of us taking them lightly," Brand said. "But I don't think we were taking it as seriously as they were."
In the second half, Dayton opened with a 9-0 run for a 50-31 lead. But Mack hit back-to-back 3-pointers in a matching 9-0 response that made it 50-40.
But Dayton rolled up with the third-highest point total by a UMass opponent this year, and the highest by an A-10 foe. UMass had been allowing 60.3 points per game to A-10 opponents, the league's stingiest average.
AYTON, Ohio Anyone up for a Cinderella story this March?
According to ESPN.com, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team qualifies.
This week's "Cinderella Watch" lists UMass as one of eight such feel-good stories in the making, along with California-Irvine, Central Michigan, College of Charleston, Gonzaga, Georgia State, Hofstra and Utah State.
To qualify, a team must be in position to make the NCAA tournament, but must not be a sure thing. The theoretical list can change on a weekly basis.
ESPN.com's projected NCAA tournament field changes each week, too. This week, UMass is projected as the Atlantic 10 champion and a No. 13 seed in the West Regional, where the Minutemen would play No. 4 Kentucky in San Diego.
The other Atlantic 10 teams listed in the hypothetical bracket are Xavier (a No. 7 seed in the Midwest) and St. Joseph's (No. 9 in the East). Missing from the projected field at least for now is Temple, which is chasing its 12th straight NCAA tournament berth.
Incidentally, ESPN's projected West bracket has the UMass-Kentucky winner facing either No. 5 seed Notre Dame or No. 12 Gonzaga in the second round.
When the NCAA tournament really does take place, UD Arena will serve as the opening venue in a very unique way.
On Tuesday, March 13, the Dayton facility will be host to the play-in game between the tournament's No. 64 and 65 seeds. The 65th team became a reality now that automatic bids go to the tournament champions in both the Western Athletic Conference and Mountain West Conference, whose teams once made up a single league.
That increases the number of automatic bids from 30 to 31, along with 64 at-large picks. Dayton will also be host to the first two rounds of the Midwest Regional Mar. 16-18.
UMass' recent winning streak has conjured up visions of the team reaching the NCAA tournament, but if that doesn't happen, an NIT bid is also in reach. To qualify, a team must finish at least .500, and UMass made it with a 17-15 record last year.
To reach the NCAA field, the Minutemen will probably have to win the Atlantic 10 tournament and secure the automatic berth. Qualifying at-large remains unlikely but possible, especially if UMass wins the regular season title and/or reaches the A-10 championship game.
SO THEY SAY:
To celebrate 100 years of University of Connecticut basketball, the Hartford Courant's pullout section yesterday listed its choices of UConn's top five all-time rivals - and omitted UMass, ignoring 113 games over 96 years between the teams.
The list includes Duke, Georgetown, Providence, Syracuse and Rhode Island. UMass wasn't completely forgotten, though John Calipari was named UConn's all-time No. 1 choice under "Sources of Aggravation," with an explanatory line that said "needed a separate chair for his ego."
UMass radio color commentator Jack Leaman missed last night's game at Dayton to fulfill a family commitment. UMass sports information director Nick Joos filled in . . . UMass is averaging 72 points per game in Atlantic 10 play, up from 64.7 in nonconference games . . . Counting all games, UMass' 5.3 blocked shots per game leads Atlantic 10 teams. Temple (4.04) is second.
or Monty Mack, the road to 2,000 points always got a little bumpy when it was Dayton blocking his path. He made it, anyway, but not on a night worth celebrating.
"I'm glad to get it out of the way, so that nobody will ask me about it anymore," said Mack, who shot 7 for 25, forced shots at times and scored 23 points in last night's 89-76 University of Massachusetts men's basketball loss to Dayton at UD Arena. "I was trying to rush things out there."
Mack still became the second player in UMass history to reach 2,000 points. He made it with two free throws with 2:31 left, and he has 2,003 points, trailing only Jim McCoy, who scored 2,374 from 1988-92.
In five games against Dayton, the 6-foot-3 senior guard has averaged 14.6 points and made 26 of 77 shots, including 10 for 35 in two games this year. Until last night, he had scored 20 points in a game against every Atlantic 10 team except the Flyers.
Mack gave himself a chance to reach 2,000 by graduating on time last spring. That restored the year of eligibility he'd lost for academic reasons as a freshman in 1996-97.
Last night, Mack hit 6 of 16 shots from 3-point range, and scored 15 second-half points. But with the exception of three 3-point baskets early in the second half, Mack was unable to translate his offense into points that mattered.
"Our big guys got into foul trouble, and it changed our game," said Mack, who shot 3 for 14 in the first half. "I was trying to take things upon myself."
"I thought he rushed some shots," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint, who also said Mack has been bothered by a minor foot injury. UMass next plays Feb. 14 against Xavier.
In UMass history, only 34 players have scored as many as 1,000 points. Mack began the season ranked fifth with 1,617 points, and has since passed Tony Barbee, Lorenzo Sutton and Lou Roe.
Among players who did not play four seasons, the highest numbers in UMass history belong to Marcus Camby (1,387 in three years) and Julius Erving, who had 1,370 in two seasons. They rank 11th and 12th, respectively.
Freshmen were ineligible in Erving's era, and he also missed his senior year by leaving for the American Basketball Association's Virginia Squires in 1971.
Camby would have done it, too, had he stayed for a fourth year and matched his 675-point junior year.
The only active Division I player with more points than Mack is Centenary's Ronnie McCollum, who has 2,343 points.
AYTON, Ohio - Monty Mack got his milestone and Bruiser Flint got ejected as the University of Massachusetts had its six-game winning streak ended in ugly fashion.
Some old bad habits resurfaced Tuesday as the Minutemen took an 89-76 whipping at the hands of Dayton Tuesday at UD Arena.
Flint didn't get to see the not-so-exciting conclusion. Referee Phil Bova gave him his second foul, and with it the ejection, with 1:29 left.
Dayton finished the first half on a 19-7 run and began the second 7-0 to go ahead 50-31. UMass never recovered.
The loss dropped the Minutemen to 10-11 and out of first place in the Atlantic 10 at 8-2.
"This is a tough place to play," Flint said. "They're very confident in this building. Every time we had a chance to cut their lead to eight and put some pressure on them, we couldn't do it. I don't want to take anything away from Dayton. They did a great job tonight."
Monty Mack closes in on Ramod Marshall.
Micah Brand scored a career-high 23, while Jonathan DePina added 10 for UMass.
Flint had to manage his team's fouls throughout the game as starters Kitwana Rhymer, Micah Brand and reserves Jackie Rogers and Eric Williams all were in foul trouble throughout.
Dayton (14-9, 5-5 A-10) took advantage of Minuteman foul trouble and dominated inside. All three Dayton big guys cracked double digits. Yuanta Holland had 18 points off the bench, while Nate Green and Keith Waleskowski (eight rebounds) had 16 each. UMass nemesis Tony Stanley had 17.
"Their big guys took it to us tonight," Flint said. "They got to the foul line and they went up strong."
"It was a complete reversal of the first game," Brand said. "Their whole front line scored in double digits like ours did the first game."
The Minutemen get a rare weekend off and return to action Feb. 14 when they play host to Xavier at 7:30 p.m. at the Mullins Center.
"We have a couple of nagging injuries we need to heal," Flint said. Rogers has an ingrown toenail and Mack has a foot bruise.
Historically, when UMass has had success against the Flyers, the Minutemen have dumped the ball into the post and done the bulk of their scoring inside. But in the first half Tuesday, UMass' big guys spent much of the first half on the bench in foul trouble as Brand, Rhymer, Rogers and Williams all were whistled for two fouls before intermission. Making matters worse, Mack couldn't get untracked offensively either, hitting just three of 15 first-half shots.
The Flyers took advantage ,winning the rebounding battle 19-10 and scoring 26 points inside. They finished the half on a 19-7 run that turned a 24-24 game into a 43-31 lead for the home team.
Sensing UMass' vulnerability, Dayton stepped on the gas early in the second half. After the Flyers pulled ahead, 50-31, two Mack threes and a Rhymer three-point play made it 50-40, but UMass never got closer. More fouls for the Minutemen big men left UMass scrambling.
Despite his ejection, Flint was relatively reserved when asked about the officials.
"When they got the ball in the post they went to the foul line. When we posted the ball we got offensive fouls," Flint said. "I'm going to talk to the league officials and that's all I'm going to say."
AYTON, Ohio - The milestone was memorable, but the game likely is one Monty Mack would rather forget.
The senior guard from South Boston came into the game needing 20 points to become the University of Massachusetts' second career 2,000-point scorer.
He achieved the milestone with 2:31 left in the game, swishing a pair of free throws to neither pomp nor circumstance, as the Minutemen were down 16 at the time.
Mack drilled a 3-pointer late to finish with 23 points, but after the Minutemen loss he was glad to have 2,000 behind him.
"I'm glad so nobody is asking me about it anymore," Mack said.
Dayton was the only Atlantic 10 team Mack had never scored 20 points against. While he snapped that hex, he did it with one of his worst shooting efforts of the year. Since Jan. 1 Mack had shot 45.5 percent from the field, but he hit just 28 percent Tuesday, missing 18 of the 25 he shots he attempted.
"I think I was just trying to rush some things because I saw our big guys were in foul trouble and I tried to take it on myself," Mack explained.
Despite the poor accuracy, Mack became the first player since Jim McCoy in 1989-90 to score 20 or more points in six consecutive games.
* * *
UMass' loss sets up a showdown for first place in the A-10 tonight in Philadelphia as St. Joseph's (7-1) plays host to Xavier (8-1). While the Minutemen are idle Saturday, those teams will play difficult games, as Xavier plays host to Temple and St. Joe's travels to St. Bonaventure.
* * *
Brand's 23-point effort makes him the first current Minuteman to crack the 20-point plateau other than Mack and Shannon Crooks. Curiously, the Minutemen are 3-6 this year when Brand scores in double digits.
The game marked the first time two Minutemen scored 20 in the same game since Chris Kirkland had 22 and Crooks added 21 in last year's A-10 Tournament win over George Washington.
AYTON, Ohio - The UMass feel-good tour was forced to take a pill last night.
The Minutemen deviated from their path as one of the hottest teams in the Atlantic 10, got whacked every which-way by an inspired Dayton team, and tumbled back under .500 with an 89-76 loss to the Flyers.
The Minutemen fell to 10-11 overall and, more important to their postseason chances, 8-2 in the Atlantic 10. They now trail Xavier (8-1) and St. Joseph's (7-1), who play tonight in Philadelphia.
While that game is of great interest to Bruiser Flint and his glum crew, they're more concerned about the beating they took under the basket last night, when a familiar axiom was once again proven true.
The Minutemen are a weaker, less confident team when Kitwana Rhymer is glued to the bench. And last night, courtesy of early foul trouble, the senior center played only 19 minutes. He finished with five points and five rebounds.
Micah Brand and Shannon Crooks followed Rhymer down that hamstrung path, and the Minutemen suffered greatly as a result.
``Foul trouble - it messed up our whole game plan,'' said Monty Mack, whose own game was deeply affected, as evidenced by his 23 points on a particularly rough 7-for-25 shooting performance.
Brand also finished with 23 points - one of his most offensively productive games of the year - but the Minutemen sorely missed Rhymer's presence on defense.
Flint was incensed enough with referee Phil Bova, who whistled all four fouls on Rhymer, that Bova finally ejected Flint during a timeout with 1:29 left in the game and Dayton leading 83-67.
Dayton outrebounded the Minutemen by a 34-26 margin, and the frontcourt trio of Keith Waleskowski (16), Nate Green (16) and Yuanta Holland (18) combined for 50 points. Tony Stanley, who tracked Mack's every move on defense, added 17 points.
Dayton coach Oliver Purnell had identified his team's weak frontcourt performance during a Jan. 18 loss at the Mullins Center as the area that needed improvement last night.
To say he got just that is an understatement.
The Flyers muscled out to a 43-31 halftime lead, with Green contributing two three-point plays and Waleskowski another down the stretch.
The Minutemen also came out flat for the second half, allowed a 7-0 run that included a Stanley trey and a Green hook, and UMass was staring up at a 50-31 deficit with 17:49 left to play.
A Stanley trey with 9:14 left gave the Flyers a 66-51 edge. They then went back inside, resulting in a pair of Holland free throws and a high-off-the-glass hook from Waleskowski for a 70-53 lead with 7:54 left.
Though they eventually pulled back within 12 points (70-58) on a Crooks 8-footer with 5:40 left, the Flyers moved quickly to snuff the effort on a deft up-and-under scoop from Stanley and Green's tip-in of a Ramod Marshall miss.
``We got in foul trouble,'' said Flint. ``That was the bottom line.''
AYTON, Ohio - Last night's parting image comes courtesy of UMass coach Bruiser Flint.
In the process of being ejected by referee Phil Bova with 1:29 left, Flint had to be restrained by his assistant coaches as he and Bova continued to shout at each other.
At issue was center Kitwana Rhymer's foul trouble - all four fouls whistled by Bova, including three on the offensive end.
But unlike Temple's John Chaney, who was reprimanded by Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno after Chaney referred to the officiating crew as ``three blind men'' following a Jan. 27 UMass win, Flint chose to air out his issue with Bova privately.
``I'll take that up with the league office,'' said Flint. ``I don't want to take anything away from the way Dayton played. They played very hard, and took it right at us.''
Revenge is Dayton's
Flint was right about the fury of Dayton's frontcourt attack - an emphasis made by Flyers coach Oliver Purnell after the Minutemen dominated Dayton under the basket during a Jan. 18 UMass win.
``We focused on paying them back,'' said forward Yuanta Holland, who finished with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. ``It was revenge. We weren't going to let that happen again, what they were able to do. The big guys were embarrassed after the last game. I know I was embarrassed.''
Last night produced a far different result. The trio of Holland, Nate Green and Keith Waleskowski combined for 50 points and 16 rebounds. Waleskowski, who scored 16 points, was 12-of-15 from the line, much to the dismay of the UMass big men.
Beyond Micah Brand's 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting, the UMass frontcourt, subs included, scored 14 points on a relatively light 6-for-12 shooting effort. They also grabbed a combined 11 rebounds.
``We kept their big guys busy,'' said Purnell. ``Our big guys did a great job . . . on the glass. We gave them one shot and then got the rebound. We did not do that when we were up there.''
Mack kept off track
Though Monty Mack scored 23 points last night, he had to work for it, as evidenced by his 7-for-25 shooting effort. Tony Stanley, who limited Mack to seven points in the teams' first meeting, once again did most of the good work.
``I didn't think that we would be able to keep Monty to 7-for-25,'' said Purnell. ``He is a great player. We did a nice job.''
esterday's game against Dayton University meant a lot to the Massachusetts men's basketball team.
Not only were the Minutemen riding a six game winning streak, but they were also attempting to jump above the .500 mark for the first time since the opening game of the year. It could even be safe to say that UMass was playing as well as it ever had in the five years head coach James "Bruiser" Flint had been at the helm in Amherst, and his team knew that it had to continue playing well if it had any chance of playing in the NCAA tournament this March.
Unfortunately for the Maroon and White, it will now have to be close to flawless down the stretch, after Dayton crushed Flint's squad, 89-76 at the Blackburn Court in UD Arena. With the loss, Massachusetts' fell to 10-11 (8-2 Atlantic 10) while the Fliers improved to 14-9 (5-5 A-10).
"We didn't come out and play like we had been playing the last month or so," Flint said. "They beat us up and down the floor."
Bright spots were few and far between for UMass. Micah Brand played excellent inside on the offensive end, totaling a career-high 23 points and keeping his team close in the first half, but it would not be enough. Monty Mack also had 23 points for the Maroon and White, but he needed to hoist up 25 shots in order to do so. Still, it was yet another 20-point game for the sharpshooter, which is something he has been able to accomplish in 11 of his team's last 12 contests.
Mack was also able to total his 2,000th career point when he hit a free throw late in the second half, and despite his atrocious night from the field (7-for-25, 3-for-15 in the first half), Flint still had nothing but praise for his senior leader.
"I am proud of him," Flint said. "He is one of the best players in the history of the school and one of the best players in the history of the Atlantic 10."
Yesterday's relatively high scoring contest differed sharply from the first meeting between the two teams earlier in the year, in which Dayton was dominated on the inside on its way to a 62-57 defeat. This time the Fliers controlled the inside, out rebounding UMass 34-25, and scoring 26 points in the paint to the Maroon and White's 10. In the last meeting between the two A-10 rivals, the main reason the Minutemen won was because they were scoring once they got the ball inside, but yesterday, Brand was the only inside presence among the Massachusetts big men, as Kitwana Rhymer, Jackie Rogers and Eric Williams could only combine for 12 points.
Another reason that Dayton pulled out the win was because they had a balanced scoring attack that could strike from long range or from the low blocks. Yuanta Holland led the way with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting, and at times he could not be stopped down low. Tony Stanley also had another excellent game, totaling 17 points, and Nate Green and Keith Waleskowski chipped in by netting 16 points apiece.
At the beginning of the game, neither team could score, as the first 3 1/2 minutes were played without a point being scored, but eventually both teams started hitting their respective grooves. Two Brand free throws capped an 8-0 run that gave the Minutemen an early five-point advantage, but soon after, Stanley was able to knot the score at 10 with a long three ball.
When Mack drilled a three from the top of the key it gave his team a 20-15 lead, but from that point on, Dayton would control the contest, ending the half on a 28-11 run. Things would fail to get any better at the beginning of the second frame, as a Ramod Marshall jump hook extended the Flier lead to 50-31.
UMass would then run off nine straight points on only three possessions, courtesy of a Rhymer three-point play and two long range bombs from Mack, but that would be as close as the Minutemen would get, as Rhymer was quickly forced to the bench with his fourth foul.
"When we got to within 10, Kit got called for an offensive foul," Flint said. "They came down, hit a three, and put it back up to 13."
From that point on, the Maroon and White would fail to make a serious run, and it seemed clear that it would drop its first game since its January 13 defeat at the hands of St. Bonaventure.
ou live by your big stars, and you die by your big stars.
The Massachusetts men's basketball team doesn't have an endless bench like Florida, Illinois or North Carolina. Coach James "Bruiser" Flint can't make substitutions at will and beat any given opponent with eight to 10 different guys.
He has a handful (barely) of talented impact players, and a bunch of solid "team" guys who know their roles and how they can chip in to the Maroon and White effort. So when the Minutemen are savoring victory, it's usually the same two or three guys who are consistently making the big plays.
And when they're tasting defeat, it's usually those same guys who aren't.
When UMass watches the tape of its 89-76 loss to the Flyers of Dayton at UD Arena last night, two players are going to be painfully reminded of the early season demons that they had worked so hard to exorcise. Throughout the team's 2-9 nightmare, Monty Mack struggled to find his stroke and Kitwana Rhymer strained to stay out of foul trouble and remain on the floor.
Last night, both players suffered some sort of roundball relapse and the Maroon and White faithful learned just how crucial these two guys are to the team's success.
Mack entered the game 20 points shy of 2,000 for his career, and perhaps that impending milestone somehow disrupted the All-American shooting guard's concentration. After stroking a three amidst an early 8-0 UMass run, Mack went from marksman to mason and began lofting bricks like it was his job. His last two shots of the first half were an airball three attempt and a wild spinning lane prayer that also missed badly.
By the time the Minutemen loped off the court on the short end of a 43-31 score, Mack had already misfired on 12 of 15 field goal attempts.
Rhymer, on the other hand, took himself out of the game before he had a chance to make any sort of impact whatsoever. It's possible that the fiery center was salivating at the chance to bully UD's undersized front line (he had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the teams' Jan. 18 meeting), but two quick fouls put Rhymer on the bench to stay less than 10 minutes into the first half.
The Flyers responded to Rhymer's absence by plundering the UMass middle for a bevy of easy baskets that spelled a 26-10 points-in-the-paint edge by halftime. UD sophomore forward Nate Green, who had managed only six points against the Minutemen earlier this year, used essentially the same up-and-under move to ring up and-ones on UMass' Jackie Rogers and Eric Williams within a two-minute stretch.
"Every time they got the ball inside, they either got fouled or scored," Flint said. "Kit got in early foul trouble and from that point on, we were never really in it."
Green finished 6-of-8 from the field for 16 points, one of four Flyers in double figures.
The second half saw both players heat up with a spurt of glorious hoops that almost turned the tide back to the Minutemen. Rhymer was seemingly fired up when Green canned a left-hander right in front of him in the post; the UMass senior responded with a strong move to the hoop with Dayton's Keith Waleskowski draped all over him for a three-point play that cut the deficit to 50-34.
Mack followed with successive threes, the first off an inbound play and the second in Flyer Tony Stanley's eye at the top of the key. Rhymer then tore down a tough defensive board, leaving UMass with a chance to trim Dayton's lead down to single digits with roughly 15 minutes to play.
But on the very next trip down the floor, Rhymer was whistled for his third foul trying to clear space under the hoop. Again the 6-foot-10 giant was banished to the bench, and again Dayton responded with easy inside hoops (courtesy of Yuanta Holland and Green) to push the game farther out of reach.
Rhymer's line for the night: 19 minutes, five points, four fouls.
Mack's frustration appeared to peak around the 4:10 mark, when his tentative three attempt in the right corner was blocked and turned into a transition bucket for the Flyers. The tri-captain committed his third turnover less than a minute later, after which Flint was slapped with a technical foul by referee Gary Bova. The coach was then T'd up again and tossed from the game with 1:29 to go.
"I apologize for getting thrown out of the game," Flint said. "But it was frustrating; they were beating us up and down the floor."
Mack did indeed reach the 2K plateau, swishing a pair of freebies and a final trifecta to finish with 23 on the night. But the glory must have indeed had a bitter aftertaste for the preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, who connected on only 7-of-25 field goal attempts (6-of-16 from three) when the next closest Minuteman took less than half as many shots (Micah Brand, 7-of-10).
This loss can't be pinned on any single player or trend within the game; there were really a whole bunch of places where the Minutemen just didn't get the job done. But when you come to rely so heavily on the play of guys like Monty Mack and Kitwana Rhymer, off nights for them can translate into long nights and big losses for the team.
MASSACHUSETTS (76) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Smith 15 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 1 0 Brand 27 7-10 9-10 1-6 1 4 23 Rhymer 19 2-5 1-1 1-5 0 4 5 Mack 40 7-25 3-5 1-3 2 1 23 Crooks 37 2-3 2-2 1-5 4 5 6 Depina 23 3-7 3-5 1-1 6 3 10 Rogers 14 2-4 1-2 1-1 0 3 5 Blizzard 10 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 3 2 Williams 14 1-2 0-0 2-3 0 3 2 Pugh 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 25-57 19-25 9-25 13 27 76 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.439, FT-.760. 3-Point Goals: 7-18, .389 (Mack 6-16, Depina 1-2). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 4 (Brand 2, Rhymer 2). Turnovers: 13 (Mack 3, Rhymer 3, Brand 2, Depina 2, Smith 2, Blizzard). Steals: 3 (Rhymer, Smith, Williams). DAYTON (89) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Green 29 6-8 4-4 1-5 1 3 16 Stanley 34 6-13 2-4 1-5 1 5 17 Waleskowski 26 2-6 12-15 3-8 2 3 16 Marshall 33 3-6 2-2 1-3 4 1 9 Morris 29 0-1 8-10 0-5 3 4 8 Holland 23 7-9 4-5 3-3 0 3 18 Smith 7 1-1 0-0 1-2 1 1 2 Hall 17 1-3 0-0 0-3 1 1 3 Finn 2 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 26-48 32-40 10-34 13 21 89 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.542, FT-.800. 3-Point Goals: 5-9, .556 (Stanley 3-6, Marshall 1-1, Morris 0-1, Hall 1-1). Team rebounds: None. Blocked shots: 2 (Stanley, Smith). Turnovers: 19 (Morris 6, Hall 3, Green 2, Marshall 2, Smith 2, Stanley 2, Finn, Waleskowski). Steals: 6 (Waleskowski 2, Green, Holland, Smith, Stanley). __________________________________ Massachusetts 31 45 - 76 Dayton 43 46 - 89 __________________________________ Technical fouls: Massachusetts 2 (Bench 2). A: 13,408. Officials: Gary Bova, Rich Sanfillipo, Terrance Murphy.