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UMass off target in loss to URI
By Matt Vautour, The Boston Herald Correspondent, 2/3/2002

KINGSTON, R.I. - Its leading scorer couldn't shoot and its No. 2 scoring option couldn't play. As a result, UMass couldn't win, falling to Rhode Island, 70-59, yesterday at Keaney Gymnasium.

Ronell Blizzard tries to stop Troy Wiley.
With Micah Brand sidelined with a sprained ankle and Shannon Crooks struggling through his worst offensive game of the season, the Minutemen couldn't find any consistent scoring down the stretch and suffered their second straight loss.

``We shot 33 percent from the field and we got a lot of open looks,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ``We have to make some baskets to stay in the game, which is typical for us, and we got down.''

Anthony Anderson led the Minutemen (9-10, 3-5 Atlantic 10) with 17 points, but he faded down the stretch, missing his last seven shots.

Eric Williams added 11 points and nine rebounds, while Raheim Lamb had nine points and eight rebounds.

Crooks missed his first 12 shots and finished with five points.

Troy Wiley and Dustin Hellenga each had 15 points to lead the Rams.

After starting the season 4-12, the Rams (6-13, 2-6 A-10) have won two of their last three.

``Any win is a big win for us when you're trying to build a program,'' Rhode Island coach Jim Baron said. ``We have to try to build on it.''

Trailing 31-24, the Minutemen came out strong after halftime.

Anderson knocked down two early treys to spark the UMass offense as the Minutemen pulled even at 39.

But Rhode Island wrapped a pair of 7-0 runs around two free throws by Williams to take a 53-41 lead.

The Rams never looked back for the rest of the game.

Baron was pleased with his team's ability to remain poised after losing the lead.

``We had tough times with those in the past,'' he said

``We didn't lose our focus and stuck to the game plan.''

The already shorthanded Minutemen, lost Brand's partner in the low post, Kitwana Rhymer, and Lamb to first-half foul trouble. And Crooks banged his head just minutes into the game. Crooks returned, but wasn't himself, going 0-for-9 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

Lappas was forced to use every healthy scholarship player on his roster.

Anderson kept the Minutemen in the game by scoring 11 points in the first half.

The Rams made a 19-8 run late in the half before a Williams tip-in made it 31-24 at halftime.

Both teams return to action Wednesday night as the Minutemen travel to Duquesne. The Rams will host Temple.

UMass still on roller coaster
URI rides roughshod over the Minutemen

By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/3/2002

KINGSTON, R.I. - Remember when the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team upheld its bold motto, ''Refuse to Lose''?

Kitwana Rhymer goes up against Wiley.
It's been years since the Minutemen fell from the national prominence that prompted such a motto. A slogan that perhaps best suits the current state of the program is, ''This, too, shall pass.''

The Minutemen suffered a 70-59 loss to Atlantic 10 foe Rhode Island here yesterday for their second consecutive setback. Prior to that, UMass had posted three straight victories, including its first win at St. Bonaventure in five seasons. That was preceded by five straight defeats, which came after consecutive wins, which ... get the picture?

The upside to the pattern is that when you lose, you know you can bounce back because you've done it before. The downside is that when you win, you know you can lose the next time out because you've done it before.

''I can't really measure morale right now because it wasn't a straw poll going on in the locker room [after the game], it was more like a monologue,'' said UMass coach Steve Lappas, whose team has plummeted into uncertainty after beginning the season with its first 4-0 start since the program's Final Four run in the 1995-96 season.

Yesterday, the Minutemen (9-10, 3-5) lost because second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Micah Brand sat out with an ankle injury and his teammates did a woeful job filling his void. UMass shot 26 percent from the floor in the first half and went 8:47 without scoring in the second half.

''We've got to make some baskets to stay in the game,'' said Lappas, who doesn't expect Brand for Wednesday's game at Duquesne. ''We hit droughts, which is typical for us, and they cost us, without a doubt.''

UMass's leading scorer, Shannon Crooks, had 5 points on 1-for-15 shooting (including 1 for 7 from 3-point range). Crooks said he was bothered by a slight knee injury suffered in Thursday's practice, and in yesterday's contest he ran into a cameraman while falling out of bounds with 17:52 left in the first half.

''I wasn't getting lift on my shots because of my knee,'' said Crooks. ''My shots weren't falling so I was trying to get other guys shots as much as possible. We knew other guys were going to have to step up, and that just didn't happen.''

Starting center Kitwana Rhymer played just 15 minutes because of foul trouble. That meant UMass had to rely on players unaccustomed to carrying the scoring and rebounding load.

''When we play without Kit and Micah, and Shannon goes 1 for 15, I'm not surprised [UMass's shooting percentage] was less than 30,'' said Lappas.

URI (6-13, 2-6) took advantage. Led by Troy Wiley and Dustin Hellenga (15 points each), the Rams never trailed after taking a 15-14 lead on a trey by Hellenga with 7:07 left in the first half.

URI led, 31-24, at halftime, but UMass tied the game, 39-39, when backup forward Raheim Lamb tipped in a missed jumper by Anthony Anderson with 13:08 left. UMass could muster just two free throws by backup forward Eric Williams over the next 10 possessions, while URI responded with a 14-2 run that increased its lead to 53-41 with 4:53 to go. UMass never came closer than 7 thereafter.

Anderson led all scorers with 17 points, while URI's Howard Smith led all rebounders with 10.

''We really didn't lose our focus and we really didn't lose our poise, and we stuck to our game plan in terms of what we needed to do,'' said URI coach Jim Baron, whose team shot 50 percent in the first half, then switched from man-to-man to zone to help stunt an already inept UMass offense.

Despite the defeat, the Minutemen say they are confident they will bounce back, and who can doubt them?

''We've been through it before earlier in the season,'' said Anderson, ''so we definitely know we can come back from it.''

Hot-shooting Rams zip by Minutemen
By Shalise Manza Young, The Providence Journal Sports Writer, 2/3/2002

KINGSTON -- Riding the hot hand of freshman Dustin Hellenga in the first half and a 14-2 run in the second, URI ended a four-game losing streak against UMass with a 70-59 win over the Minutemen yesterday afternoon.

Blizzard gets friendly with Lazare Adingono.
It was one of the better all-around performances of the season for the Rams, who had three players in double digits. The team shot nearly 47 percent from the field.

A guard from Centreville, Va., Hellenga had 13 points in the first half on 5-for-6 shooting. His trio of treys all came in a two-minute span, with the final giving Rhody a 23-16 lead with 4:16 to go until halftime.

With each one he made, Hellenga's reaction grew more emotional, and his enthusiasm was contagious -- his teammates caught it, and the Keaney Gym crowd responded as well.

"I hit my first shot and that gives me a lot of confidence," Hellenga said. "I'm an emotional guy, and I like to get my team up. I think I did a pretty good job of that."

Behind his shooting, the Rams built their lead to nine. A tip-in by UMass's Eric Williams just before the buzzer sent URI into the locker room at halftime up 31-24.

It was only the fifth time this season that the Rams held the advantage at the half, and the seven points was their largest such cushion. In those five games, URI is 4-1.

Looking to reverse their first-half fourtunes, when they shot 25.9 percent from the field, the Minutemen came out shooting with more success in the second and quickly tied the score at 39-39 with just under 13 minutes to play.

That was the Minutemen's second-half high point.

Over the next 8:37, the Minutemen had no field goals and exactly two points, both on free throws by Williams. Rhody took advantage, building a lead that wouldn't fall under seven points the rest of the way.

Even after Massachusetts had tied the game, Baron said, "We didn't lose focus, we didn't lose our poise. They stuck to the game play and they did hit their shots."

During Rhody's run, fans were treated to two fantastic alley-oops from point-guard Dinno Daniels to junior Troy Wiley. In all, Wiley, the reigning Atlantic-10 player of the week, had five dunks on the afternoon.

Other than those five dunks, however, it was not a great shooting day for Wiley: he was 6 for 14 from the field for 15 points.

Hellenga also ended with 15 points, and Daniels scored 11.

Massachusetts finished the game shooting 32.8 percent, including a dismal 1-for-15 performance from leading scorer Shannon Crooks. Shooting-guard Anthony Anderson had five 3-pointers (though on 13 attempts) and finished with a game-high 17 points.

The Minutemen have now lost back-to-back contests after a three-game winning streak, and it seems streaks are their forte: to start the season, they went 0-4, then lost 9 of their next 10 before the three-game upswing.

Coach Steve Lappas, in his first season at Amherst, was playing without second-leading scorer Micah Brand, out with a sprained ankle. And his best post player, Kitwana Rhymer, played sporadically after getting into foul trouble early.

"It's like, where do you start?," Lappas said after the loss. "Rhode Island played a nice game -- they moved the ball well, they had only 10 tunrovers -- but we hit droughts, which is typical for us. It cost us, without a doubt."

Of the scoring drought, he said: "When you miss so many shots, you push for offensive rebounds, and when you don't get them, [the opposition] gets transition baskets, and it complicates the problem."

Hellenga's success comes in threes
By Shalise Manza Young, The Providence Journal Sports Writer, 2/3/2002

KINGSTON -- So far this season, Dustin Hellenga has proven coach Jim Baron right.

Blizzard ties up Adingono.
A 6-foot-4, 210-pound freshman from Centreville, Va., who played last year at Winchendon School in Massachusetts (averaging 17.2 points per), Hellenga was Baron's first URI recruit.

He has become the Rams' most consistent 3-point threat, and his 41 3s made through 19 games leads the team. Second on the list is senior Dinno Daniels with 19.

Yesterday against UMass, Hellenga's 3-point shooting and his ensuing enthusiasm ignited Rhody and the 2,417 Keaney Gym faithful on hand. Making three baseline treys in the span of two minutes, Hellenga pumped his fist and raised three fingers in the air after each one.

He finished the game with 15 points, and after the victory he said his aim was to lift his teammates.

"I just love to win -- it's been with me all along. I hate to lose," he said.

Baron said the guard's emotion yesterday was "tremendous."

When asked what it's been like to be on a team which has struggled to a 6-13 record, Hellenga said he expected difficulties in his first season: "There are a lot of new things going on. But now we know how to win."

The rookie announced himself to local fans on Dec. 11, when he scored 30 points, including seven 3-pointers, in a loss at Yale. He followed that performance with five treys and 20 points against Brown.

For the season, Hellenga is averaging 10.7 points per game, second to Troy Wiley .

URI-UMass rivalry moves to Keaney

Rhode Island is now in their final season of play at Keaney Gymnasium, and has collected four of its six wins on the season at the old arena. Yesterday was the first time in more than a decade that the Rams played Massachusetts at Keaney; for the past 10 years, they have played the Minutemen at the former Providence Civic Center, where UMass won seven of nine games, including the last four straight.

However, after yesterday, Rhody is 27-20 against the Minutemen at Keaney.

It was only the fifth win for the Rams against UMass in the last 27 games between the two schools. The Minutemen had won the previous four straight, by an average margin of 26.5 points.

Weeks takes on former team

While Ty Weeks found great success at Massachusetts, he has helped coach Jim Baron succeed at beating the Minutemen in recent years.

A former two-year captain at UMass, Weeks recorded 1,013 points and 858 rebounds as the Minutemen made four straight NCAA tournaments with him on the roster from 1994-98.

He moved into the coaching ranks with Baron at St. Bonaventure and is now 5-1 against his former team as a coach. Baron brought the 27-year-old with him to Rhode Island.

Rebounds in hands of two

Guards Howard Smith and Daniels, both 6-foot-0, combined to pull down 17 rebounds yesterday, one fewer than the rest of the Rams combined. Smith led all players in the game with a career-high 10 boards. . .Rhode Island had nine turnovers in the first half but only one in the second. As a team, they had 16 assists. . .The magic number for the Minutemen is 38 percent. When their opponent shoots under that from the field, the team is 8-1. When the opposition goes above that, as URI did yesterday, UMass is 1-9.

Shorthanded UMass canít beat Rhode Island
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/4/2002

KINGSTON, R.I. - His team is different, but Jim Baron still has the University of Massachusetts' number. The Minutemen suffered through the offensive drought that has been present in all 10 of their losses and fell 70-59 Rhode Island Saturday.

With junior Micah Brand, the Minutemen's second leading scorer, already out with a sprained ankle, it didn't bode well when senior Shannon Crooks - who led the Minutemen (9-10, 3-5 Atlantic 10) with 15.1 points per game - banged his head chasing a loose ball early in the first half.

He was down for a few minutes and later returned to the game, but was not himself. Crooks missed his first 12 shots from the field and finished with five points on 1-for-15 shooting.

"He was not dizzy or I would not have put him back in the game," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "We made very sure of that. It just hurt. But it couldn't help."

"It affected me," Crooks said. "I still wanted to play. I had hurt my (left) knee in practice too. But I wasn't going to back out of this game and I was trying to do as much as I could to help the team win."

Sophomore point guard Anthony Anderson kept the Minutemen from getting blown out in the first half with 11 points as they trailed 31-24 at intermission. But his 39 minutes of carrying the offense and guarding Rhody's Dinno Daniels eventually fatigued Anderson who missed his last seven shots.

"It was a lot of pressure, especially in the second half," Anderson said. "I was pressuring the point guard full court and I wasn't getting my legs under my shots. When Shannon doesn't play well, we need somebody else to pick it up and that didn't happen today."

Lappas wasn't surprised that the Rams eventually found a way to slow Anderson.

"It's not that difficult when we only have one guy making a shot in the first half," Lappas said. "Anthony did as much as he could. He's got to get a little help."

Eric Williams added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Minutemen, and Raheim Lamb had nine points and eight rebounds.

"We shot 33 percent from the field and we had some open shots," Lappas said. "But we have to make some baskets to stay in the game. We hit droughts which is typical for us and it cost us, without a doubt."

Troy Wiley and Dustin Hellenga each had 15 points to lead the Rams, while Daniels had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Six-foot guard Howard Smith grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and had four assists.

The Minutemen will try to snap their two-game losing streak Wednesday when they travel to Pittsburgh for a 7:35 p.m. game against Duquesne.

Despite their lack of scoring options, the Minutemen were able to erase Rhody's half time advantage as Anderson's two early threes sparked a 15-8 spurt to open the second half that tied the game at 39-39 with 12:56 remaining. From there though the Rams wrapped a pair of 7-0 runs around two Williams' free throws to take a 53-41 lead with 4:52 left. UMass missed eight straight shots over that stretch and turned the ball over twice.

Lappas said, "When you miss so many shots, you start going to the offensive glass a little bit harder and when you miss they get some easy transition baskets and that compounds the problem."

Anderson still contributing
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/4/2002

KINGSTON, R.I. - For the second straight game, the University of Massachusetts wasted a strong offensive performance by sophomore Anthony Anderson. The rookie point guard's 17 points put him in double figures for the third straight game.

The effort earned him Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors as he averaged 18.5 points and didn't turn the ball over in 67 minutes of action. He has now won the award three times. He raised his average to 10.7 points per game overall and 11.3 points in A-10 games.

But big offense from Anderson hasn't meant success for the Minutemen in the Lynn native's short career. UMass is 4-6 when he scores 10 or more points and 2-8 when he takes eight or more shots.

Saturday was just his second game all year when he didn't have an assist largely because he was the only reliable option to pass to. When he did pass the ball, the shots often weren't finished.

Take Anderson's stats out of the equation and he was passing to a team that was shooting 28 percent. Of the nine assists UMass had as a team, four of them came on passes to Anderson.

EVEN WITH LAST YEAR: Saturday's loss gives the Minutemen the exact same record that they had at this point last year. UMass won six of its final 11 games in the 2000-01 season and finished 15-15. The current Minutemen are 5-10 since starting the season 4-0.

BRAND NOT LIKELY: UMass junior big man Micah Brand is expected to miss his second straight game with a sprained ankle Wednesday when the Minutemen face Duquesne at 7:30 p.m. in Pittsburgh.

"I doubt very much he plays Wednesday," Lappas said.

NEXT UP: Duquesne hammered Fordham, 95-66, Saturday at the Palumbo Center. Jamal Hunter scored 26 points while Wayne Smith scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

MISCELLANEOUS: Rhode Island coach Jim Baron has now won five straight games against the Minutemen in his home gym as he added to the four-game streak that started at St. Bonaventure...Raheim Lamb, who played mostly power forward, hit a 3-pointer late in the second half. It was the first trey of his career. He had missed his previous two tries.

Small forwards Jameel Pugh, Willie Jenkins and Brennan Martin played in the first half together for the first time all season. All three went scoreless. Martin played 13 minutes, Pugh played six and Jenkins was on the floor for just one minute.

Video clips

All clips in MPEG format.
Video clip Ronell Blizzard blocks Steve Mello's breakaway. (file size = 506k)
Video clip Eric Williams cleans up for Blizzard. (795k)
Video clip Kyle Wilson hits the 3. (473k)
Video clip Kitwana Rhymer lets the defender go by and puts up the shot. (474k)

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Massachusetts Minutemen 59
Rhode Island Rams 70
at Rhode Island

Massachusetts vs Rhode Island
02/02/02  2:00 p.m. at Kingston, RI(Keaney Gymnasium)
VISITORS: Massachusetts ( 9-10, 3- 5)
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
30 CROOKS,Shannon       f  1-15   1-7    2-2    0  2  2   5   5   6  4  0  2  35
34 LAMB,Raheim          f  4-6    1-1    0-0    5  3  8   3   9   0  0  0  0  21
33 RHYMER,Kitwana       c  2-3    0-0    5-5    2  2  4   4   9   0  2  1  0  15
11 WILSON,Kyle          g  1-3    1-2    0-0    0  0  0   2   3   2  1  0  1  18
12 ANDERSON,Anthony     g  6-15   5-13   0-1    1  2  3   4  17   0  0  0  0  39
00 MARTIN,Brennan          0-4    0-2    0-0    0  0  0   0   0   0  0  0  0  13
01 JENKINS,Willie          0-0    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   0   0   0  1  0  0   1
03 BLIZZARD,Ronell         2-4    1-2    0-0    2  1  3   2   5   0  2  2  0  24
21 WILLIAMS,Eric           3-7    0-1    5-5    4  5  9   1  11   1  0  0  1  28
24 PUGH,Jameel             0-1    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   1   0   0  1  0  0   6
TEAM ........................................   2  1  3              1
TOTALS                    19-58   9-29  12-13  17 17 34  22  59   9 12  3  4 200

TOT-FG 1stH: 7-27 25.9% 2ndH: 12-31 38.7% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 32.8% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 4-13 30.8% 2ndH: 5-16 31.3% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 31.0% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 6-7 85.7% 2ndH: 6-6 100.% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 92.3% 0

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Rhode Island ( 6-13, 2- 6) TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS No. N A M E FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 01 WILEY,Troy f 6-14 0-1 3-7 1 2 3 1 15 0 4 2 0 29 24 HELLENGA,Dustin f 5-7 3-4 2-2 1 2 3 0 15 2 0 0 0 30 54 EVANS,Marcus c 1-5 0-0 0-0 3 0 3 4 2 0 1 0 0 19 02 DANIELS,Dinno g 3-4 0-0 5-6 1 6 7 1 11 6 4 0 2 31 04 SMITH,Howard g 1-4 1-1 2-4 4 6 10 1 5 4 0 0 0 29 11 MELLO,Steve 2-5 0-2 2-2 1 0 1 2 6 1 0 0 1 17 13 ADINGONO,Lazare 2-2 1-1 3-4 0 0 0 2 8 1 0 0 0 15 20 WOODWARD,Brian 2-3 0-0 2-3 1 2 3 1 6 0 1 0 0 10 23 MURPHY,Emmett 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 3 42 MOMPLAISIR,Marcel 1-5 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 17 TEAM ........................................ 0 0 0 TOTALS 23-49 5-9 19-28 14 21 35 13 70 16 10 2 3 200

TOT-FG 1stH: 11-22 50.0% 2ndH: 12-27 44.4% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 46.9% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 4-7 57.1% 2ndH: 1-2 50.0% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 55.6% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 5-6 83.3% 2ndH: 14-22 63.6% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 67.9% 4, 2

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OFFICIALS: Larry Lembo, Terry Murphy, David Walker TECHNICAL FOULS: Massachusetts - none Rhode Island - none ATTENDANCE: 2,417 SCORE BY PERIODS: 1st 2nd OT1 OT2 OT3 OT4 TOTAL Massachusetts 24 35 59 Rhode Island 31 39 70

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