MHERST - There was a time when beating Fordham would have been one of those mandatory wins for UMass, the sort it needed to guarantee a first-round bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Kitwana Rhymer throws down the uncontested jam.
The good news is that the Minutemen were convincing in the way they dispatched the talent-heavy but chemistry-impoverished Rams (8-17, 4-10), snapping a three-game losing streak.
Anthony Anderson, who has to be a front-runner for A-10 rookie of the year honors, built his 16-point, five-assist performance on the power of five treys, including three in the second half.
Kitwana Rhymer turned in perhaps his best 20 minutes of the season by scoring all 14 of his points in the first half, when he also grabbed eight of his 11 rebounds.
But he wasn't alone on the glass. The Minutemen outrebounded the Rams by a healthy 45-37 margin, a figure that begs the question of why UMass hasn't used its size to that sort of advantage more often.
With last Tuesday's 72-67 loss at St. Joseph's still fresh in his mind, UMass coach Steve Lappas filled his players up with corrective rebounding drills this week.
``Coach put bubbles on the rims, shot off the foul line, and we boxed out,'' said Rhymer. ``He made it a point. We had drills, threw each other around and fouled each other.''
They couldn't have been better prepared for the way yesterday's game broke, then.
Fordham, the worst free throw shooting team in the conference with a .577 percentage, is also one of the best offensive rebounding teams as a result of the Rams' ability to overpower opponents and chase down those misses.
Anthony Anderson faked himself out of his own shoes.
With ultra-hyped freshman Smush Parker setting the tone with one point on 0-for-8 shooting, the Rams shot 39 percent from the floor and 13 percent (1-for-5) from 3-point range. The Minutemen, on the other hand, shot 43.5 percent (10-for-23) from downtown.
But true to form, the Minutemen also went cold at the worst possible moment. The difference is that they had built enough of a cushion to survive an 11-0 Fordham charge.
Kyle Wilson's second of two treys gave UMass a 61-42 lead with 7:30 left when the power light went off.
The Minutemen wouldn't score for the next 4:23, and an Adrian Walton hoop cut the UMass lead to 61-53 with 4:07 left.
But the Minutemen hit 6-of-9 free throws over the last 3:39 to hang on.
MHERST - Out of ideas and running out of patience, desperate Fordham coach Bob Hill yesterday asked the media for advice.
Rhymer tries to get past the defense of Teremun Johnson.
''We have a free throw shooting problem. Anybody have any suggestions?'' said Hill, whose confession was news to none of the 4,514 at the Mullins Center who watched his Hawks miss 14 free throws (9 for 25) in a 13-point loss (67-54) to UMass.
''It's been there all year long. I've done everything I can think of,'' said Hill, who tried reverse psychology at halftime (''I told them to go to the line and think, `I'm going to miss.' Maybe that would work.'') but whose team couldn't take advantage of being in the bonus the final 17 minutes 36 seconds. ''I don't know what else to do with them.''
Knowing Fordham (8-17, 4-10 Atlantic 10) suffered from serious free throw and 3-point shooting deficiencies, UMass coach Steve Lappas implored his team to rebound the many missed free throws and force Fordham's guards to take jumpers. The Minutemen's three-day commitment to boxing out worked to the tune of a 45-37 rebounding edge (led by Kitwana Rhymer's 11 boards, to go with 14 points and 3 blocks) and a single point for William ''Smush'' Parker, who came in averaging a team-leading 17.7.
''That's what we talked about the whole week of preparation,'' said Lappas, whose Minutemen (11-14, 5-9) ended a three-game losing streak and extended Fordham's to seven. ''It was an easy thing to pay attention to, considering we got destroyed on the boards by St. Bonaventure [Tuesday] and the first time we played Fordham [a 95-86 loss Jan. 12]. If I couldn't convince them that it was important, I couldn't convince them that the ball was round.''
Raheim Lamb cuts a little too hard and gravity does the rest.
Over? Not quite. Fordham's full-court trap helped it score the next 11 points and trim the deficit to 8 with 4:08 remaining.
But from there UMass made six freebies to Fordham's one. It was also suggested to Hill that his team, which shoots an A-10-worst 57.7 percent from the line, not get in the bonus so early and give teams the option of playing ''hack-a-Hawk.''
Said Lappas of his team picking up seven fouls to start the second half, ''That's the only thing that kept me from going completely bananas, the way they were shooting [their free throws].''
his was the 24th meeting between UMass and Fordham. With the win, UMass now leads the all-time series 17-7. The Minutemen have won 13 of the last 15 meetings between the two teams.
Shannon Crooks gets doubled up on the trap.
* The Minutemen held Fordham to 38.6 percent shooting from the field. UMass is now 10-3 on the year when holding its opponent below the 40 percent mark from the floor.
* Sophomore guard Anthony Anderson (Lynn, Mass.) finished this afternoon's game with 16 points and five assists. It was the 15th time this season and the seventh time in the last nine games he has scored 10 or more. It was the eighth time he has dished out five or more assists, and the third time in five games he's had at least five dimes.
* Senior guard Shannon Crooks (Boston, Mass.) finshed the game with six assists, tying his season high. He has now had six dimes in four different games this season.
* Senior center Kitwana Rhymer (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands) poured in 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds today. It is his fourth double-double of the season and the 18th of his career. The Minutemen are now 7-2 on the year when Rhymer reaches double digits in points, and 2-2 when he claims more than 10 rebounds.
* Senior forward Eric Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished the game with 10 points. It is the fifth time this season and the sixth time in his career he has reached double-digits. UMass is now 1-4 when Williams reaches the 10 point plateau.
* The Minutemen used their ninth different starting lineup of the season. Senior forward Ronell Blizzard started for just the second time this year.
* UMass is now 8-2 at home this season when scoring 62 or more points and 8-1 when holding its opponent to 60 or fewer.
MHERST - If you're in need of some proof that rebounding remains of consequence in the present age of college hoops, go talk to Kitwana Rhymer.
Steve Lappas didn't have too much to worry about with a decent win.
Outrebounded 40-22 in their 72-67 loss at St. Joseph's Tuesday, the Minutemen spent the rest of the week working to keep the glass clean, something they didn't do in a 95-86 loss at Fordham mid-January when the Rams killed UMass, 55-38, in that category.
"It was an easy thing to pay attention to for two reasons," coach Steve Lappas said. "We got destroyed on the glass the other day and we got destroyed the last time we played Fordham. If I couldn't convince them to rebound, I can't convince them that the ball is round. And that was important."
Lappas' knack for persuasion did the job as the Minutemen ended the first half with a 26-16 edge on the glass, and finished the game with a 45-36 advantage.
Anthony Anderson, possibly on his way to the Atlantic-10's Rookie of the Year award, scored a game-high 19 points for the Minutemen (11-14, 5-9 A-10) to help his team end a three-game slide and take sole possession of fourth place in the A-10 East standings. Rhymer had 14 for UMass while Eric Williams added 10.
Adrian Walton led Fordham (8-17, 5-9) with 15 points and Mark Jarrell-Wright netted 12 for the Rams, who have lost seven in a row. Fordham's demise came from the charity stripe, where the Rams connected on a 9-of-25 clip.
"We have a free throw shooting problem, anyone got any suggestions?" asked Fordham coach Bob Hill after the game. "It's been there all year long. I've done everything I can think of. If we make our free throws, we're right there."
The worst free-throw shooting team in the conference (.548), Fordham found itself in the bonus with an atypical 17 minutes left in the second half. But because of its shaky stroke and UMass' defensive switch to zone, the Rams couldn't find a way to dispose of the Minutemen's 37-29 halftime lead.
Raheim Lamb gets congratulated for a solid day: 8 points, 5 rebounds.
UMass managed only 39.7 percent from the floor, but connected on 43.5 percent of its long-range attempts.
Kyle Wilson's two consecutive treys midway through the second half extended the Minuteman lead to 61-44 with just over seven minutes remaining. UMass failed to score in the next four minutes of action, but the Rams' inefficiency from the stripe forbid any comeback. The Minutemen, who host Rhode Island on Wednesday, went 6-of-9 in the final 3:39 to secure the victory.
Fordham began the game strong and led 15-12 with 11:12 left in the opening stanza after a layup from Jeff McMillan. Rhymer, however, scored the game's next four hoops. Rhymer's swat of Jarrell-Wright with 8:12 left led to his two-handed jam under a minute later to give UMass a 21-15 advantage - one it would not relinquish.
MHERST - In a game that couldn't have been more different from their Jan. 12 meeting, the University of Massachusetts held off a late Fordham charge and snapped its three-game losing streak with a 67-54 win in front of 4,514 fans Saturday at the Mullins Center.
Kitwana Rhymer sets his eyes on the prize.
Shannon Crooks and Kitwana Rhymer seemed to switched roles Saturday. Crooks, who has been the most consistent offensive weapon for UMass, scored a season-low five points on one-for-eight shooting.
Rhymer, who has been up and down all season, made up for his fellow senior's scoring drought with 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Anthony Anderson had 16 points and five assists for UMass (11-14, 5-9 Atlantic 10).
"Kit did a great job, especially in the first half," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "He made some nice moves to the basket. He rebounded the ball. He was active, blocked a couple of shots, doing the things he needs to do to get us going."
The Minutemen didn't let the game's tempo get out of hand this time, forcing Fordham (8-17, 4-10 A-10) to play at a more deliberate pace resulting in the Rams' lowest offensive output of the season.
Smush Parker, who was pulled out of Fordham's starting lineup for missing study hall and getting kicked out of practice this week, had a season low one point.
Adrian Walton, who had 25 points in the teams' last meeting, led Fordham with 15 points and eight rebounds, but UMass contained him much better this time.
"He caught us off guard a little bit last time," Lappas said. "We were more prepared this time for him. We knew who he was and what he did."
The win gave the Minutemen sole possession of fourth place in the Atlantic 10 East. They cannot catch St. Bonaventure (8-6) for third.
The Minutemen will play Rhode Island in their final home game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Shannon Crooks breaks free and lays it up.
But that was hardly an advantage for Fordham. The Rams made just nine of 25 free-throw attempts in the game.
"We have a free-throw shooting problem. Anyone have any suggestions?" coach Bob Hill asked the assembled media in the postgame press conference, sounding more like a member of a support group than a coach. "I've done everything I can think of. If we make a decent percentage of our free throws in the first half it's a two-point or three-point game. If we make them we're right there.
"I told them at halftime 'Try to miss them, maybe that will work,' " Hill said.
It didn't. The Rams were five of 12 after that advice. Lappas was well aware of Fordham's foul-shot follies and prepared for them.
"They missed a lot of free throws and we got every rebound on every missed foul shot," Lappas said. "We had some great box-outs on the foul line and I think that made a big difference in this game. That's one of the reasons they're a great offensive rebounding team is that they're very aggressive at rebounding missed fouls because they miss a lot."
Fordham started strong, leading for the first 10 minutes but never by more than five.
A 10-2 Minuteman run that included six by Rhymer put UMass ahead 19-15 with 8:31 remaining.
Three players took turns carrying the Minuteman offense as Rhymer, Raheim Lamb and Anderson each scored six straight UMass points as the lead ballooned to 11 points at 33-22 with 4:09 left in the half.
The advantage grew to as many as 19 in the second half, but even an 11-0 Fordham run wasn't enough to put the result in doubt as the Minutemen made enough foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.
MHERST - There hasn't been much to knock in Anthony Anderson's first season at the University of Massachusetts.
Anthony Anderson has room for improvement in his game.
The one aftereffect from not playing last year has been free throw shooting.
Anderson has made just 19 of 44 from the line this season - a 43.1 percent clip that is easily the lowest among UMass regulars.
After Saturday's game, Anderson was asked if he was a good free-throw shooter in high school.
"I was, but I sat out all last year and didn't really shoot free throws in pickup ball," he said. "I'm struggling from the line right now. It's surprising. Every one I let go looks good. They're just hitting the back rim. So I have to work on it."
When Anderson works on something, it tends to get better. For example, he struggled in stretches early from long distance, but improved his 3-point shooting as the season went on.
"I'm a lot more comfortable," Anderson said. "Earlier in the year there was a stretch where I couldn't hit anything. I just stayed after practice shooting a little more trying to jump higher."
Anderson is at 40.2 percent (62-for-154) from 3-point range and 46.1 (47-for-102) in conference games.
BLIZZARD STARTS: Ronell Blizzard made his second start of the season for the Minutemen at power forward in place of Micah Brand.
Blizzard played only two minutes and didn't score, however, while Brand was on the floor for 29 minutes and registered four points and six rebounds. UMass Coach Steve Lappas said the move was based on Brand's health.
Blizzard will start again Wednesday against Rhode Island as part of senior day.
NEXT UP: The Rams will arrive in Amherst Wednesday losers of their last three. They fell to La Salle, 77-64, Saturday in Philadelphia.
CHART CLIMBING: Shannon Crooks was presented with a ball commemorating his 1,000th point as a Minuteman which he accomplished Tuesday night at Saint Joseph's.
His five points Saturday were a season low, but his six assists (one turnover) matched a season high. UMass is 2-3 when he scores fewer than 10 points. He needs four points to pass Tyrone Weeks at No. 34 (1,013) on the career scoring list for UMass.
With at least three games remaining, Crooks needs eight assists to become only the fourth member of 1,000-point, 300-assist club for the Minutemen. Already there are Alex Eldridge, Al Skinner and Charlton Clarke.
Nine assists would move Crooks into a tie at No. 10 on the school's career list with former UMass and AAU teammate Jonathan DePina who delivered 301 in his Minuteman career.
MISCELLANEOUS: Kitwana Rhymer's 14 points and 11 rebounds gave him his fourth double-double of the season and the 18th of his career.
It was the first win for UMass when Anderson leads the team in scoring (16 points). Previously the Minutemen had gone 0-4.
Sophomore Jameel Pugh, who scored 22 against Fordham on Jan. 12, has sat out the last six games.
|at the Mullins Center|
OFFICIAL BASKETBALL BOX SCORE -- G A M E T O T A L S Fordham vs Massachusetts 02/23/02 4:00 p.m. at Amherst, MA(Mullins Center) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VISITORS: Fordham ( 8-17, 4-10) 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 05 JOHNSON,Teremun f 1-1 0-0 0-5 1 5 6 2 2 3 1 1 2 31 42 FREEMAN-MCKAMEY,Duke f 3-10 0-0 1-2 3 2 5 5 7 1 0 2 1 20 55 BATEMON,Glenn c 2-4 0-0 3-6 1 3 4 3 7 0 1 0 0 17 03 WALTON,Adrian g 6-10 1-3 2-3 2 6 8 2 15 3 4 0 5 40 11 JARRELL-WRIGHT,Mark g 6-14 0-2 0-0 2 1 3 3 12 2 3 0 3 34 04 MCMILLAN,Jeff 4-10 0-0 1-4 2 3 5 3 9 0 2 0 0 30 21 PARKER,William 0-8 0-3 1-3 0 3 3 2 1 2 2 1 0 27 23 ACQUAVIVA,Alessandro 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 TEAM ........................................ 1 2 3 TOTALS 22-57 1-8 9-25 12 25 37 20 54 11 14 4 11 200
TOT-FG 1stH: 12-29 41.4% 2ndH: 10-28 35.7% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 38.6% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 1-5 20.0% 2ndH: 0-3 00.0% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 12.5% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 4-13 30.8% 2ndH: 5-12 41.7% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 36.0% 7
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Massachusetts (11-14, 5- 9) 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 03 BLIZZARD,Ronell f 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 34 LAMB,Raheim f 4-7 0-0 0-0 2 3 5 4 8 1 1 0 0 17 33 RHYMER,Kitwana c 5-9 0-0 4-5 5 6 11 3 14 1 2 3 0 26 12 ANDERSON,Anthony g 5-8 5-8 1-5 0 3 3 2 16 5 4 0 1 34 30 CROOKS,Shannon g 1-8 1-2 2-2 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 1 2 27 00 MARTIN,Brennan 0-2 0-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 9 01 JENKINS,Willie 0-3 0-2 2-5 0 4 4 1 2 0 1 0 0 21 11 WILSON,Kyle 2-6 2-5 2-2 0 2 2 3 8 2 0 0 1 13 21 WILLIAMS,Eric 4-8 2-4 0-0 2 4 6 3 10 2 4 0 3 22 40 BRAND,Micah 2-7 0-0 0-0 2 4 6 1 4 1 4 1 0 29 TEAM ........................................ 3 0 3 TOTALS 23-58 10-23 11-19 15 30 45 21 67 19 17 5 7 200
TOT-FG 1stH: 14-30 46.7% 2ndH: 9-28 32.1% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 39.7% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 4-10 40.0% 2ndH: 6-13 46.2% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 43.5% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 5-10 50.0% 2ndH: 6-9 66.7% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 57.9% 3, 2
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OFFICIALS: Ken Clark, Murph Shapiro, Duke Edsell TECHNICAL FOULS: Fordham - none Massachusetts - none ATTENDANCE: 4,514 SCORE BY PERIODS: 1st 2nd OT1 OT2 OT3 OT4 TOTAL Fordham 29 25 54 Massachusetts 37 30 67