St. Joseph's stuns UMass
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/16/1994
PHILADELPHIA – They could really use a break right now. Just a few days to regroup, reload and recapture the off-again, on-again fire that seems to have flickered in the wake of some nail-biting games and one off-the-court fiasco.
Last night, against the last-place team in the Atlantic 10, the University of Massachusetts showed limited passion and played catch-up for 39 minutes 59.8 seconds.
St. Joseph's ended the chase when guard Kevin Connor sank a free throw with :00.2 left to give the Hawks an 81-80 upset of the 10th-ranked Minutemen before a raucous capacity crowd of 3,200 that stormed the floor and carried Connor off on its shoulders.
The Minutemen don't play again until midnight Friday against Manhattan. Perhaps then they'll resemble the team that worked its way to 19 wins, first place in the Atlantic 10 and a top 10 national ranking.
It was the first conference loss in 11 games this season for UMass (19-4 overall), and it couldn't have come at a worse time.
Coach John Calipari knew he would face questions about Sunday's incident involving Temple coach John Chaney following the Minutemen's 56-55 win.
Reporters wondered whether Sunday's fracas carried over to last night, as the Minutemen shot 34 percent from the floor in the first half.
When asked if the events of the last two days compounded his team's efforts to get motivated, Calipari said, “I would say so, but I hate to have excuses, and I hate to take away from St. Joe's win. I'm not that kind of person. That was a great win for them, and I think that's what should be talked about.
“I always tell my team, the team that wants it the most is usually the team that wins the game. Today, it was no question – St. Joe's was not going to be denied. We made some great runs to get back. But we were not playing at the level a top team plays and needs to play.”
St. Joseph's (11-11, 3-9), which has used 11 lineups this season because of injuries, shot 54 percent in the first half and outrebounded UMass, 40-34.
“We hold most teams to under 60 points,” said Calipari, “and they scored 81.”
St. Joseph's led, 66-60, before UMass tied it at 72-72 with 6:17 left on a 3-point basket by Carmelo Travieso. With UMass trailing, 80-75, guard Mike Williams hit a 3-point basket to pull the Minutemen to 80-78. Then Williams stole the ball from Rap Curry and scored on a layup to tie it at 80-80 with :31.2 left.
On the Hawks' final possession, Curry shot and missed, and the ball was batted around by several players, the last being Connor, who was fouled by UMass center Marcus Camby with :00.2 left. Officials had to watch the replay on the courtside monitor to determine how much time was left and who would shoot the foul shots.
“The ball was being tipped and Williams was boxing me out, and luckily the ball went my way,” said Connor (16 points). “I just put it up and Camby fouled me.”
Connor sank one free throw and, after St. Joe's called a timeout, missed his second. UMass guard Derek Kellogg lofted the ball upcourt to no avail.
“You can't just say we played bad,” said Calipari. “St. Joe's played a heck of a game.”
Curry (19 points, 8 assists) agreed.
“I don't think UMass' play had anything to do with the Temple game,” he said. “I think when you're a good team and you play a team you're supposed to beat, you wait for them to crack. We just didn't do that.”
Calipari must work hard to make certain his team doesn't crack.
“I did a poor job preparing this team because of Sunday's incident,” he said. “Not only did I let – as a victim – let that affect what was going on, it affected me here, but that's not right.”
Asked if it still affects him, Calipari said, “It better not affect me much longer, or we're not going to win many more games.”