It was just unbelievable
UMass massacres Maine, 108-38
Record win clinches conference
Seven (7) UMies hit double figures
By Steve DeCosta, Massachusetts Daily Collegian, 2/25/1974
“I’m just awed by what happened,” remarked a disbelieving but jubilant Jack Leaman.
And indeed it was an awe-inspiring performance of total dominance on the basketball court that was turned in by the four departing Minuteman seniors and their teammates Saturday night as they dismantled Maine by a whopping record margin of 70, yes I said 70, points, 108-38.
It was a score that must have sent hundreds of late night editors into a frenzy, calling the wire services for a double, or even triple-check of what had to seem like a misprint.
But the only mistake of the night was on the part of the Black Bears, who decided to show up at all, or maybe for hundreds of UMass fans who decided to skip the game or showed up too late to crash the gate.
There is absolutely no way possible to describe what happened on the court. Suffice it to say that it was Senior Night, there were 5000 screaming UMies who seemed to be hanging from the rafters, and everything, just everything fell into place.
The night’s final shot exemplified the near mystical quality of the game. Mike Stokes stole the ball from a Maine dribbler on the far-side of mid-court with time running out. As the buzzer sounded, Stokes heaved up a lunging two-hander from 50 feet away that arched toward the iron.
“When I first saw it, I said it couldn’t go in,” said Leaman. “But then I figured it had to: everything else had been going in all night long.”
And Leaman was right. The ball glanced off the glass and slipped through the twines with a whispering swish that was immediately replaced by a roar that shook the foundations of the Cage, the campus, and all of New England college basketball.
But the night was for the seniors. The crowd came for one purpose, to honor the likes of Al Skinner, Rick Pitino, Peter Trow, and John Olson, who enjoyed their final, and as it turned out, finest hour in the Cage.
Skinner wound up as the night’s scorer with 21 points and pulled in eight rebounds, all in 23 minutes of playing time. After sitting out most of the second half in favor of the subs, Skinner came back for an encore to the cries of “We want Al.”
With less than a minute left, Skinner got the ball under the basket. Al went up for what everyone just knew would be one last jam. But the defender pushed Skinner too far under the hoop, and the senior forward had to be content to lay it in, for his last hoop ever in Curry Hicks.
For Rick Pitino, it was a night of releasing all the tensions built up in three years of playing for a well-patterned team. Pitino turned on all the moves, behind-the-back, between-the-legs, and combinations of the two. He finished with only six points, but ran the offense with near-perfection.
Peter Trow hustled all over the Cage court for the last time, and in the process picked up 16 points and six caroms.
And even John Olson, a forgotten man who usually played only when the outcome was no longer in doubt, contributed heavily to the cause with some aggressive defensive play and six hard-earned rebounds.
But it was a team effort that felled the Black Bears, and the supporting cast deserved more than its share of accolades.
Greg Duarte, who didn’t even play in the first half, garnered 13 rebounds and 11 points in all of 17 minutes of game action.
The other juniors also contributed. John Murphy, although used sparingly, heaved in 10 points and Bill Endicott finished up with 15 markers.
Mike Stokes, in addition to his aforementioned last-minute heroics, split the twines for 10.
The freshmen duet of Steve Mayfield and Joe Semder continued their steady improvement and gave hope to continued basketball success in the future with their solid play in the front-court.
Actually, the game should have been close. The Bears came into the contest with a record of 13-8 and appeared loose and ready to play in warm-ups.
UMass was tight in the early going and seemed to have difficulty establishing their offensive pattern. The Minutemen broke to a 6-0 lead thanks to good “D” and poor Maine shooting, but the Bears climbed back to make the score 6-4.
Then came the deluge. The Minutemen ran off 14 unanswered points, saw Maine counter with 2, and then came back with another 16 straight.
It was coasting time from there as UMass rolled to a 50-18 half time lead.
If you get your kicks from statistics, check these out:
- UMass solidified their number one ranking in the country in rebound margin by destroying Maine off the boards, 71-31.
- 27 assists were turned in by the homesters, while Maine could manage only five.
- Bob Warner, the leading rebounder and third leading scorer in the conference was held to only nine points and as many rebounds.
And if you like a little wildness:
- The Minutemen kept their fingers on the “reject button”, blocking eight shots.
John Murphy blocked a shot with his foot, kicking the ball out of the shooters hands on an attempted scoop lay-up.
- Steve Mayfield accounted for two of the Maine points as he tapped a rebound through the wrong hoop.