Coverage from:
The Springfield Union-News
The Springfield Union-News - notebook
The Springfield Union-News - column
The Boston Herald
The Boston Herald - notebook
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - notebook
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - column


Flying Owls strike down Minutemen
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 2/18/2001

AMHERST Before yesterday's men's basketball game between the University of Massachusetts and Temple, ABC broadcaster Dick Vitale joked and mugged with fans who had come to a game that was shaping up as something special.

But how special can a nightmare be? Vitale's presence signified that UMass was back in the basketball spotlight, but the Minutemen fell flat on their faces at center stage, losing 84-52 at the Mullins Center.

The 32-point loss was the worst of coach Bruiser Flint's career, surpassing a 31-point defeat to North Carolina in December. A capacity crowd of 9,493 the first Mullins capacity crowd since a Jan. 16, 1999 win over Kansas watched in stunned disbelief as Temple guards Quincy Wadley (career-high 28 points) and Lynn Greer (26) outscored the Minutemen all by themselves.

External link Pictures at MassLive
It was the most lopsided outcome in the 45-game history of the UMass-Temple series. And it came at a time when Temple (15-12, 9-4 Atlantic 10) seemed most vulnerable, having lost two straight games and seeing their number of available players dwindle to eight including center Kevin Lyde, who is suffering from a left Achilles' tendon problem and had to talk coach John Chaney into letting him play in the second half.

After the game, Flint wasn't enraged, but the stunning loss clearly deflated him.

"I'm just disappointed I am," the UMass coach said. "This was the worst game we played all season, by far. In practice, we talked about attacking their zone, but then we just went through the motions."

UMass (11-12, 9-3) fell two games behind Atlantic 10 leader St. Joseph's (10-1) in the loss column. The teams meet Feb. 27 in Philadelphia, but now UMass no longer controls its own fate in the race for the conference title.

"We've still got an opportunity we just need a little help now," said Flint, searching for positives on a downer of a day. "We've got four more (regular-season) games. We just have to finish strong, get into the (A-10) tournament and do our thing."

Yesterday's loss, though, damaged UMass' NCAA tournament hopes as much as it boosted Temple's flagging chances. The Minutemen now may have to win the Atlantic 10 tournament and the automatic NCAA berth now to make the field.

If they don't, they can now probably afford one more loss at most.

Flint said he sensed trouble Friday, when the Minutemen had what he called an "awful" practice. But the game was even more awful, with Temple shooting 64 percent in the first half to lead 47-30, then scoring on its first four possessions of the second half.

UMass committed 12 turnovers, which is not a particularly high number. But some of them looked embarrassing, and almost all were costly.

"I'll bet 10 of them went for (Temple) layups," Flint said. "We threw balls away, and we dropped balls under the basket."

Monty Mack shot 7 for 10 and scored 21 points for UMass, his eighth straight 20-point game. That's the longest streak for a UMass player since 1970-71, when Julius Erving had streaks of 11 and eight, respectively.

Junior forward Jackie Rogers recorded his first career double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds.

An 8-0 run gave Temple a 10-5 lead, and a 9-0 burst made it 21-11. For UMass, it kept going downhill from there, capped by 20 percent shooting in the second half.

Wadley, Greer and forward Alex Wesby (13 points) hit some contested 3-pointers and got free for others, and the Owls wound up hitting 11 of 20 3-point shots. Temple finished with 52 percent overall shooting.

"We just didn't play any defense," UMass guard Shannon Crooks said. "And when you play hard on defense that they drop a big 3 on you, it takes the life out of you."


Inside approach among problems
UMass notebook
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 2/18/2001

AMHERST Among other things, yesterday's University of Massachusetts game plan was to take the ball at Kevin Lyde, and try to get the ailing Temple center into foul trouble.

Like everything else in the 84-52 loss at the Mullins Center, the plan flopped completely.

"The guys wouldn't take it at him," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "They'd throw it back, and they'd throw it away."

Lyde hasn't practiced since Feb. 1 because of a left Achilles' tendon problem. Yesterday, he hobbled to the locker room with 2:20 left in the first half, but still wound up scoring 10 points in 26 minutes.

When UMass did go inside, the Minutemen couldn't hit shots. Only Jackie Rogers (13 points, 11 rebounds) was effective.

"Our first five times down in the second half, we threw it right on the blocks," Flint said. "Boom, boom, boom. We were 3 feet from the basket, and we missed every shot.

"I should have played Jackie and Eric Williams more," Flint said, even after Rogers had played 30 minutes, one shy of his career high. Williams, like Rogers a 6-foot-8 junior, played only three minutes.

Flint said Williams has been bothered by tendinitis in his knee, but that he could have been used more.

The starting low-post players, Kitwana Rhymer and Micah Brand, combined to shoot 2 for 10. Brand made two baskets in the first three minutes of the game, but didn't score again.

Rhymer continued to struggle. In his last seven games, the UMass center is 12 for 32, including 0 for 3 in 14 minutes yesterday.

"He's a hard worker, but it all goes back to preparation," Flint said. "He has to come to practice and give a little more."

As for Temple's big men, the 6-9 Lyde is absolutely essential on a team on which no other regular is taller than 6-6. Lyde picked up a foul after only 1:08 in the first half, but UMass never drew another on him. It was one of many maddening aspects to yesterday's debacle.

"I can only hope Kevin gets better, but we got away with it because we shot extremely well," Temple coach John Chaney said. The Owls' shooting percentage (52.6) and 3-point percentage (55.0) represented season highs.

TOURNAMENT CHANCES:

Four at-large teams have been NCAA tournament choices with 14 losses, most recently Villanova in 1991. UMass, which has 12 losses, made it with 13 (and 18 wins versus Division I teams) in 1997.

RPI UPDATE:

UMass entered yesterday ranked 59th in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). With an 11-11 record before yesterday, the Minutemen were the nation's highest-ranked team without a winning record.

Connecticut was 52nd in the RPI, with Temple 55th.

ET CETERA:

The UMass regular-season finale, a March 3 home game at noon against St. Bonaventure, has been picked up by ESPN . . . After missing two games for a family matter, UMass broadcaster and former coach Jack Leaman was back yesterday . . . Yesterday's 32-point loss was the worst for UMass since Feb. 16, 1990, an 88-55 setback at West Virginia during John Calipari's first year. It was the worst UMass loss ever at the Mullins Center, and the worst in Amherst since Feb. 15, 1986, when an 84-50 loss to St. Joseph's at Curry Hicks Cage came with Flint playing for the Hawks . . . Temple was without 6-foot-10, 315-pound Ron Rollerson, who is out at least three weeks with a sprained foot. But Flint said that while the Owls lose depth without Rollerson, they're harder to guard because they become quicker.


Chance blown in spotlight
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 2/18/2001

AMHERST With eight minutes left and the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team trailing Temple by 32 points, much of the Mullins Center capacity crowd of 9,493 started streaming for the exits.

It's fair to wonder when many of them will be back. It's also safe to say it won't be for Tuesday night's 9:30 home game against Rhode Island.

There are bad losses and ill-timed losses and crushing losses, and yesterday's 84-52 disaster against Temple was all three. An important window of opportunity had been cracked open for this team, only to be slammed shut with the Minutemen's fingers still on the sill.

Temple seemed as beatable as Temple ever is. The Owls had nine people in suits on their bench, and three reserves in uniform.

Their center, Kevin Lyde, was limping and seemed exhausted. The creases around John Chaney's eyes seemed baggier.

Students came with signs that said anything from "Bill Cosby liked UMass Better" to cardboard love letters for ABC, which had assigned Dick Vitale for this premier contest. All the trappings of big-time ball were there.

All that was missing was a decent game. It was so bad that it was embarrassing.

"We knew what we were getting into," UMass guard Shannon Crooks said. "We just weren't prepared."

How could that be? How can a team not be prepared against Temple?

"I told the guys it's not how you perform, it's how you prepare," said coach Bruiser Flint, who saw trouble in the form of a lousy practice Friday. "Temple always comes ready to play. Those guys are fighters."

It borders on distasteful to bring up Flint's status after every game, especially after only the second loss in the last nine. But those marshaling support for him looked at this game as a chance to add more evidence to their cause.

Instead, they'll have to explain around it, or UMass will have to start playing so well again that it's soon forgotten. But losing at home by 32 to your archrival on ABC is not easily forgotten.

That's a shame. Until yesterday, this UMass season could have been seen (though it often hasn't been) as an uplifting tale of a well-liked, well-respected coach and his team being left for dead, then turning things completely around.

Wednesday night's win over Xavier left a feeling Flint might be pulling ahead of the posse that was no doubt secretly rooting for Temple yesterday, as part of its obsession to run Flint out of town.

For those of us who root for good people to succeed, that made yesterday's UMass meltdown especially depressing and sad. Playing with virtually no bench, Temple was still out-fighting UMass for loose balls at the end.

What's worse, a team that might be fighting with UMass for a possible third Atlantic 10 spot in the NCAA tournament has come to life again.

"We hope so," Temple guard Quincy Wadley said after scoring a career-high 28 points. "We hope this will get the snowball rolling."

Don't bother telling Wadley that snowballs roll down hills, not up. Now UMass, which has lost two of its last three, has to worry about that reverse snowball effect though playing Rhode Island next would seem to be good medicine.

It won't remove the sting of yesterday's squandered opportunity, though.

"The players didn't say anything in the locker room afterward," Flint said. "What could they say?"

Nothing, really. Other than the fact the Minutemen had their best opportunity in years to re-establish themselves as a team that can stand prosperity, handle a showcase occasion, and win back some fans. And they blew it.


Temple crushes UMass: Minutemen self-destruct
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 2/18/2001

AMHERST - UMass hit the canvas faster than Sonny Liston yesterday.

The first sellout crowd at the Mullins Center since UMass beat Kansas on Jan. 16, 1999, was on hand and the game was nationally televised. So give this much to the Minutemen:

Photo
Jackie Rogers was the only Minuteman to step up his game, scoring 13 and grabbing a career high 11 rebounds.
Their pathetic sense of timing wasn't limited to the unforced first-half turnovers that greased the skids for Temple and allowed the Owls to cruise to a 84-52 win.

``This was the worst game we've played all season, by far,'' UMass coach Bruiser Flint said of the Minutemen's worst loss ever to Temple, not to mention the largest losing margin by a Flint-coached team.

There were no immediate explanations.

UMass' record fell back under .500 overall at 11-12, and down to 9-3 in the Atlantic 10, though the Minutemen are still in second place thanks to a two-game sweep of Xavier. UMass, which still has an outside shot at the regular season A-10 title, remains in contention for a first-round bye in the conference tournament despite the loss.

``(On Friday), everyone, including myself, didn't come ready for practice and that really showed up in the game,'' said UMass guard Shannon Crooks. ``We knew this was a big game, and that it was on national TV. We just didn't come prepared.''

Flint shook his head.

``I'm just very disappointed, and it started (Friday),'' he said. ``I told them that the pressure was not to perform, but to prepare. We were awful in practice, and it showed (yesterday). We got the ball four feet from the basket and missed every shot.''

Flint was disgusted enough with his starting frontcourt of Kitwana Rhymer, Micah Brand and Winston Smith that he benched the trio for the final 15 minutes. By that time, however, the Owls held an insurmountable 59-33 lead, courtesy of a 12-3 burst to open the second half.

While Temple came out of the break hot, UMass was ice cold. The Minutemen missed 11 straight shots - most of them out of the post - and the Owls were surviving with hobbled center Kevin Lyde on the floor.

Lyde, suffering from a sore Achilles tendon, still managed to score 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting.

Temple did a magnificent job defensively tracking Monty Mack. Though the UMass guard finished with 21 points, he didn't take his first shot of the second half until there was 7:21 left.

The shot - a 3-pointer - was accurate, but only knocked the Owls' lead down to 72-43.

Temple did the bulk of its damage early with Lynn Greer and Quincy Wadley taking the lead as the Owls shot 64 percent in the first half. By halftime, Temple had built a 47-30 lead.

Wadley finished with a career-high 28 points and Greer was close behind with 26. The backcourt mates combined to help the Owls finish an impressive 11-of-20 from 3-point range (UMass made just 6-of-21), with Wadley converting 3-of-5 treys and Greer hitting on 4-of-7 attempts.

``I give (Temple) all the credit,'' said Crooks. ``You try hard on defense, and a big 3 drops on you, it gets you down a bit. The energy just left us.''


Temple crushes UMass: Minutemen self-destruct
UMass Notebook
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 2/18/2001

AMHERST - The UMass starting frontcourt of Kitwana Rhymer, Micah Brand and Winston Smith spent most of the second half yesterday side-by-side on the bench, heads hung low as Temple finished off the Minutemen, 84-52, at the Mullins Center. In fact, as a result of their lackluster performance, the trio was benched for the final 15 minutes of the contest.

Rhymer, Brand and Smith combined for as many turnovers (five) as they did points while also joining forces to pull down just seven rebounds.

``What can I say? Temple played a lot of the game with Mamadou Barry and (Rouldra) Thomas, two guys you never see in there,'' UMass coach Bruiser Flint said of the two Owls players who logged time in the absence of injured center Ron Rollerson and the brittle, injured condition of big man Kevin Lyde. ``I'm just disappointed - disappointed at how they came out and played. They threw the ball away and dropped balls. When you have games like this, you have to understand that it takes more than you're putting into it.''

Big hole to fill

Rollerson's season-ending injury, a severe foot sprain, has cut the Temple rotation to eight players. As a result, guards Quincy Wadley and Lynn Greer each played 40 minutes yesterday, and Lyde, despite a painful Achilles tendon that has bothered the center all season, toughed it out for 26 minutes.

Temple's domination afforded Lyde a bit of a break.

``Whenever they took (Monty) Mack out, we could go back to the zone with (Lyde), and that helped him a lot,'' said Owls coach John Chaney. ``We can get away with it when we're shooting the ball extremely well, like (yesterday). But that's the only way.''

Mack held in check

On the surface, it appeared as though Mack had done his usual part for the Minutemen. The senior guard scored 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range, but Mack didn't put up a single shot over the first 12 minutes of the second half. During that span, Temple was putting the game away.

Chaney referred to his defense of Mack as a ``match-up man(-to-man) that had the appearance of a box-and-one.''

``We had (Greer) spy him, and then we concentrated on (Wadley) forcing the dribbler away from wherever he was,'' said Chaney. ``The couple of times we played him honest, we didn't know where he was.

``Mack is a great catch-and-shoot guy. You can't let him get open.''


Shorthanded Owls rip UMass
Quincy Wadley scored 28 and Lynn Greer 26 in the 84-52 shellacking. Temple had eight players available.
By Mike Jensen, The Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, 2/18/2001

AMHERST, Mass. - Kevin Lyde limped off to Temple's locker room a couple of minutes before halftime yesterday against Massachusetts, his flared-up left Achilles tendon flaring more than ever. Coach John Chaney wanted Lyde to sit out the second half. Temple's center could barely walk, but he talked his way back into the game.

"I told them I'd let them know when I couldn't go," Lyde said.

Photo
Lynn Greer, here working against Jon DePina, had an easy time with the Minuteman defense, scoring 26.
It turned out that Owls guards Quincy Wadley, who scored a career-high 28 points, and Lynn Greer, who had 26, had everyone covered out there. The pair outscored UMass by themselves as Temple routed the barely-in-the-building Minutemen, 84-52, in front of the first Mullins Center sellout crowd in more than two years.

It was the largest scoring margin in the history of Temple's series with its greatest Atlantic Ten rival, and Bruiser Flint's worst loss as UMass coach.

"This was the worst game we played all season, by far," said Flint, whose team, which won at Temple last month, had been hot lately, and had begun the day alone in second place in the A-10.

The Owls (15-12 overall, 9-4 A-10), who were coming off back-to-back losses at Xavier and St. Joe's, made 20 of their first 29 shots and finished with their best shooting game of the season, both overall (52.6 percent) and from three-point range (55 percent).

"This would be a perfect time to get a snowball going toward the Atlantic Ten tournament," Wadley said. "We hope we can continue playing like this, being unselfish and looking for one another. Every game we played like this, we've been looking for each other."

Defensively, the Owls threw a wrinkle at the Minutemen (11-12, 9-3). They had seen on film how Richmond had done a good job with a box-and-one against UMass sharpshooter Monty Mack back in December. So when Mack, who has a quick release and deep range, hit his third three-pointer with nine minutes left in the first half, drawing his team within 25-21, Temple went to an Owls version of a box-and-one, what Chaney called "a matchup man with the appearance of a box-and-one."

Although Mack had 21 points, he went 19 minutes with just a fastbreak basket. He didn't take a shot for the first 121/2 minutes of the second half. Various Temple players took turns blanketing Mack. Greg Jefferson got a turn, and 6-7 Rouldra Thomas, who hadn't played in the first half of a game in over a month, and missed the St. Joe's game entirely with strep throat, did a good job for a seven-minute stretch in the first half. Then Greer had Mack in the second half when he was completely out of the offense.

The other part of Temple's strategy was to keep the UMass point guards away from Mack. Wadley's assignment was to steer Shannon Crooks or Jonathan DePina toward the side away from Mack.

"If he did have to pass it [to Mack], he'd have to pass it through Quincy's arms," Chaney said.

UMass got some decent looks from other people, but missed 12 straight shots in the second half. Temple, leading by 47-30 at halftime, scored on its first possession after the break, on a dunk by Lyde.

With those points, the Owls already had as many as Xavier scored in losing to UMass here Wednesday night. The Owls kept going. Greer drove and scored. Alex Wesby cut to the hoop and scored. Greer hit an open three-pointer on a kick-out from Lyde. Just over three minutes into the second half, Temple had a 59-32 lead.

The starting frontline for UMass scored just five points, and none after halftime, as Flint sat his regular big men for much of it.

Lyde also got to sit after playing eight second-half minutes. He had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. Then he stretched his left leg out across three chairs. (Since Temple is down to eight players, there was plenty of room.) He said the Achilles was hurting worse than ever.

"I can't jump. I can't really run. It hurts when I put pressure on it," Lyde said.

Temple's other center, Ron Rollerson, is out for three to five weeks with a severe foot sprain.

"I can't bring in a big guy for a big guy," Chaney said. "With the other guys, we just put them on the box and let them score for the guards. It works when the guards are shooting well."


Flint: Handwriting was on wall
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/19/2001

AMHERST - University of Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint saw it coming. As he watched his team practice poorly Friday night, he sensed impending doom Saturday.

He was right. UMass' aim at its own foot was more accurate than its aim at the basket. Playing their biggest rival on national TV in front of its first Mullins Center sellout since Jan. 16, 1999, against Kansas, the Minutemen were embarrassed, 84-52, by Temple, a team they beat less than a month ago.

Photo
There were lots of long faces on the Minuteman bench.
"I'm disappointed. I told my team we were going get beat like this today," Flint said. "It started (Friday). I always tell my team that that the pressure is not on you to perform, it's on you to prepare, and we were awful in practice (Friday). We played like it today."

Junior point guard Shannon Crooks agreed with Flint's assessment.

"The day before the game, everybody, including myself, didn't come ready to practice," Crooks said. "It showed in the game. I apologize for our performance. That wasn't us out there. The fans came out to support us and we folded."

The Minutemen shot poorly (18-of-57, 31.6 percent) from the floor, including 20 percent in the second half, with many of those misses coming from in close. Eliminate Monty Mack's 7-for-10 shooting and the number drops to 23.4 percent.

"We got the ball four feet from the basket and we missed every shot," Flint said.

Conversely, the Owls scored at will, hitting 30 of their 57 shots, including 11 of 20 from behind the 3-point arc.

Quincy Wadley and Lynn Greer outscored the Minutemen by themselves, 54-52, with 28 and 26 respectively. Temple had surpassed UMass' final total with less than two minutes into the second half.

"I give them all the credit, they shot the ball real well," Crooks said. "Sometimes when you're playing defense and they hit a tough shot it takes the life out of you.

Photo
The Temple defense contains Jackie Rogers here as they did to the Minutemen all day.
Mack led UMass with 21 points while Jackie Rogers added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Mack's 21 came on only 10 shots as Temple coach John Chaney altered his famed matchup zone into a "matchup man" at times to try to deny Mack the ball.

"We went to a matchup man most of the game and it helped us a lot," Chaney said. "It had the appearance of a box-and-one and we matched up quite well."

Even Rogers' effort couldn't make up for the awful performance of the Minuteman starting big men - Kitwana Rhymer and Micah Brand - who combined for five points and six rebounds. Their problems came despite the absence of starting power forward Ron Rollerson, who missed the game with sprained foot, and an Achilles injury to center Kevin Lyde, who sat most of the second half and was well below 100 percent when he did play in the first.

Junior center Eric Williams played only three minutes, a decision Flint admitted was a mistake. "I should have played him ... and Jackie more."

Greer said the injuries to their teammates inspired the Owls.

"Today we were very shorthanded with Ron hurt and Kevin hurt, so the guys out there knew we had to play hard," Greer said.

The Minutemen fell back below .500 at 11-12 and now are two games out of first place in the Atlantic 10 at 9-3. They play host to Rhode Island Tuesday.

Temple came out strong, but UMass stayed with the Owls early, trailing 12-11 with 14:36 left in the first half, but the Owls reeled off a 9-0 run to build their lead to double-figures at 21-11.

The Minutemen battled back within four at 25-21, but a 12-2 Owl run pushed them ahead, 37-23. Temple coasted to a 47-30 intermission lead.

The Owls opened the second half on a 12-3 run.

Flint stressed putting the game behind them.

"I told them we have four more games in the league," Flint said. "We have to finish strong get in the playoffs and do our thing."


Rhymer's a no-show again
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/19/2001

AMHERST - When the game was over, Kitwana Rhymer sat on the University of Massachusetts bench with a disconsolate facial expression that resembled those of his equally upset teammates.

In UMass' 84-52 dismantling at the hands of Temple, the senior center had the worst game of what has been a difficult five-game stretch for him.

Rhymer scored just one point and grabbed three rebounds. He was whistled for only one foul, but his play was limited to 14 minutes due to ineffectiveness. He missed all three field goals he attempted, all from close range.

Rhymer looked like an all-league player in mid-January, earning the Atlantic 10's Player of the Week honors from Jan. 14-20. He followed that with a 14-point, 11-rebound effort in UMass' 65-64 overtime win at Temple.

In that game, Rhymer's play was critical to UMass' success down the stretch. He made big shots and cleared some big rebounds.

Since then, however, Rhymer has all but disappeared. In the last five games he's averaged 4.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. UMass missed his inside production in its 89-76 loss to Dayton, and it certainly missed it Saturday.

Against Temple, Rhymer's struggles stood out because the Owls dominated inside, despite not having Ron Rollerson all game, and an injury to Kevin Lyde that slowed him in the first half and sidelined him in the second.

Since becoming a regular player last year, Rhymer's play has been streaky. He plays well for a stretch and then disappears for several games before repeating the cycle. He emerged from a dry spell last year on Feb. 29 and helped spark UMass' late season strong play.

With four regular season games and the postseason remaining the Minutemen need him to emerge again.

"It all goes back to preparation," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "When you have games like that you have to start coming in (to practice) a bit more. He plays better when we have no school," Flint said in reference to Rhymer's intersession success. "But he'll be all right."

DUBIOUS DISTINCTION : The loss set some regrettable records for the Minutemen. It was Flint's worst career loss, eclipsing the 91-60 loss to North Carolina in December.

The defeat was UMass' worst ever in the Mullins Center, and the worst at home since Feb. 15, 1986, when a St. Joseph's team that included Flint and current Minuteman assistant Geoff Arnold - who were then junior and senior guards, respectively, on the Hawks - beat the Minutemen, 84-50.

MACK STREAK : Senior Monty Mack kept his streak of 20-point games alive for the eighth consecutive game. Mack now has scored 20 or more in 51 of his 116 career games.


A blow to UMass hopes
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/19/2001

AMHERST - There is never a good time for a 32-point beating. That much is obvious.

But also obvious is that there are particularly bad times to absorb such an embarrassment, and for the University of Massachusetts, Saturday was one of them.

Prior to the game, UMass was enjoying its greatest feelings of optimism since Midnight Madness. The Minutemen were coming off a big win, playing their rival on ABC with Dick Vitale calling the game.

A sweep of Temple would have stoked the fire further and might have caused many of the 9,493 members of the Mullins Center's sellout crowd to stay on the bandwagon.

Photo
Micah Brand grabs the rebound, but it was one of only three on the day.
Instead the Minutemen went out and laid an egg and delivered their worst performance of the year in an important game, and it hurt.

The defeat likely ended UMass' slim hopes of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

More significant, the Minutemen dealt their Atlantic 10 regular-season title hopes a serious blow. Before the game, UMass was just a game behind St. Joseph's for first place in the A-10. The Minutemen could have played the Hawks for first place on Feb. 27 at Hawk Hill, had they kept winning.

Now, to win the league regular-season crown, UMass needs help from St. Joe's' three remaining opponents, who aren't the most intimidating bunch.

With lowly Fordham and Duquesne left, the only true threat to the Hawks will come Wednesday at Dayton. If St. Joe's wins at UD Arena, then it won't matter if the Minutemen upset the Hawks in Philly next week.

If UMass doesn't win the A-10 Tournament, the National Invitation Tournament is no lock yet, either. The Minutemen are still under .500. If they don't win the league tournament, the Minutemen will have at least one more loss.

That means to reach the .500 standard of eligibility for the NIT, they'll have to be two games above .500 the rest of the way.

So for the third straight season, UMass' fate lies in the first week of March. The Minutemen have to hope this time around gets them better results.


Temple Owls 84
Massachusetts Minutemen 52
at the Mullins Center

TEMPLE (84)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Wesby           28  5-10   0-0   0-6  1  4   13
Hawkins         24   1-3   2-4   0-3  0  3    5
Lyde            26  5-10   0-1   1-4  3  1   10
Greer           40  8-15   6-7   1-6  6  1   26
Wadley          40 10-15   5-5   2-6  5  1   28
Jefferson       19   1-2   0-0   2-4  0  3    2
Thomas           9   0-1   0-0   0-1  1  0    0
Barry           14   0-1   0-0   0-2  0  1    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 30-57 13-17  6-32 16 14   84
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.526, FT-.765. 3-Point Goals:
11-20, .550 (Wesby 3-6, Hawkins 1-2, Greer 4-7,
Wadley 3-5). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 3
(Lyde 2, Wesby). Turnovers: 8 (Greer 2, Hawkins,
Jefferson, Lyde, Wadley, Wesby). Steals: 9
(Jefferson 2, Thomas 2, Wadley 2, Barry, Hawkins,
Wesby).

MASSACHUSETTS (52)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Smith           13   0-1   0-0   1-1  1  1    0
Brand           23   2-7   0-0   2-3  2  0    4
Rhymer          14   0-3   1-2   1-3  0  0    1
Mack            37  7-10   2-2   0-2  2  3   21
Crooks          29  3-12   2-3   0-2  4  3    9
Depina          24   0-5   0-0   1-6  5  4    0
Rogers          30  5-10   3-4  6-11  0  3   13
Blizzard        18   0-3   2-2   0-1  0  1    2
Jenkins          2   0-2   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Williams         3   1-1   0-0   0-1  0  0    2
Pugh             7   0-3   0-0   0-1  1  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 18-57 10-13 11-32 15 15   52
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.316, FT-.769. 3-Point Goals:
6-21, .286 (Smith 0-1, Mack 5-7, Crooks 1-4,
Depina 0-4, Blizzard 0-2, Jenkins 0-1, Pugh 0-2).
Team rebounds: None. Blocked shots: 5 (Blizzard
2, Crooks, Rogers, Rhymer). Turnovers: 12 (Brand
3, Mack 3, Depina 2, Crooks, Rhymer, Rogers,
Smith). Steals: 4 (Brand, Mack, Pugh, Rogers).
__________________________________
Temple             47   37  -   84
Massachusetts      30   22  -   52
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 9,493. Officials:
Larry Lembo, Fran Connolly, Mark Distaola.

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