UMass men's basketball has key game against La Salle at Mullins Center
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 2/18/2012
AMHERST - Entering the season, among the challenges University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Derek Kellogg laid out for his team were to become harder to beat at home and not to lose two games in a row.
With five games left in the regular season, the Minutemen have fulfilled both of those goals. They're 12-0 in Amherst and haven't lost back-to-back games all season. They'll put both marks to the test Saturday at 6 p.m. when they host La Salle at the Mullins Center.
Kellogg was proud of his team's resilience this season.
“If you can stay away from putting together two losses in a row, that's huge for a team and a program,” said Kellogg, whose team lost at Saint Joseph's Saturday. “The guys have bought into that and we've been able to avoid that this year.”
While the Explorers haven't been among the Atlantic 10's better teams in recent years, they've dominated against UMass, winning six out of the last seven games. The Minutemen's lone win came last season at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
UMass dug itself a sizable hole in the teams' earlier meeting this season. The Minutemen turned the ball over 16 times in the first half and fell behind by 28 early in the second half before rallying to make it close.
“Watching film of the last time we played those guys, we looked at the mistakes we made,” sophomore point guard Chaz Williams said. “We keyed in on that and tried to do some things differently.”
Kellogg said avoiding being swept this year would be important for a lot of reasons.
“Any time you play a team two times in a season, you at least want to win one,” Kellogg said. “We're in similar places in the conference and where we are as a team and getting a win at home would be big for us Saturday.”
The game could have plenty of impact in the Atlantic 10 standings as seven teams are within a game of each other from third place to sixth place. UMass (18-7, 7-4 A-10) is tied for third with Xavier, a half game ahead of fifth-place Saint Joseph's (7-5). The Explorers (17-9, 6-5) are just a game behind UMass in a four-way tie for sixth place with Dayton, Duquesne and St. Bonaventure.
La Salle has lost its last three games - vs. St. Joe's at the Palestra, at Richmond and home against Saint Louis. The Explorers are 12-1 at Tom Gola Arena this year, but just 4-7 in road games.
WILLIAMS MILESTONES - Williams is closing in on a couple of UMass marks for sophomores. Kellogg holds the record for most assists as a sophomore with 162, but Williams needs 11 to catch him. Williams is just steals five behind Shannon Crooks' sophomore record of 58.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass.
See the UMassHoops.com Message Board thread for pre-game and post-game discussion.
UMass Comes Up Just Short In 72-71 Loss To La Salle
Maxie Esho posts career-high 18 points to lead all scorers.
From UMass Athletics, 2/18/2012
AMHERST, Mass. - Terrell Vinson's fadeaway jumper as time expired was reviewed and ruled a two-point basket leaving UMass on the short end of a 72-71 Atlantic 10 game at the Mullins Center Saturday night.
The basket almost capped a comeback that saw the Minutemen trail by four with 21.2 seconds left. Maxie Esho grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to 70-69 with 13.1 remaining.
Tyreek Duren made two free throws for the Explorers to set up the final scenario. Chaz Williams missed the initial three try before grabbing the board and feeding Vinson whose foot was proved to be on the line in the replay.
UMass (18-8, 7-5 A-10) shot 45 percent for the game but was just 9-of-18 from the free throw line. Esho finished with a career-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Williams recorded his second-consecutive double-double with 11 points and 10 assists.
La Salle (18-9, 7-5) made eight 3-pointers and saw four players in double figures, led by Earl Pettis' 18. Duren, Ramon Galloway and Jerrell Wright each had 15. The Explorers were 12-of-17 from the line and 4-of-6 in the final minute.
UMass opened up a 17-8 lead nine minutes into the game before La Salle rode some hot outside shooting to stake a 24-21 lead with 7:54 to play in the half.
Pettis keyed the La Salle run with five 3-pointers and had 17 points as the Explorers went up 29-23 with 6:12, but was forced to the bench with his second foul shortly thereafter.
It was during that stretch that UMass tied the game at 29 and ended the half on a 10-4 run to knot the contest at 33 at the break.
The second half went back-and-forth until the Explorers took their largest lead of the contest, 60-51, on a Ramon Galloway triple with 6:08 on the clock. UMass responded with a 12-2 run over the next 2:20 to grab a 63-62 advantage.
UMass finished with a 19-7 edge in second chance points after grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. The Minutemen also got 27 points off the bench.
UMass will return to action on Tuesday night when it plays host to Xavier. Tip-off at the Mullins Center is set for 7 p.m.
After review, La Salle delivers UMass men's basketball first home loss
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 2/20/2012
AMHERST - For about a second, the Mullins Center erupted in celebration as Terrell Vinson's shot beat the final buzzer Saturday night. But the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team trailed by three and the referees quickly ruled the shot a two-pointer and the public address announcer delivered the bad news.
The Minutemen had a slim hope for a moment as the referees when to the video to make certain. But the original call stood and La Salle prevailed 72-71 to give UMass its first home loss of the season.
“I thought I stepped back,” Vinson said. “I took a step back. I thought I got all of it behind the line, but I guess I didn't get behind it. The replay showed something different. It was tough.”
The Minutemen trailed 60-51 with just over six minutes left. But Maxie Esho led UMass on a 15-4 run that Chaz Williams capped with a 3-pointer to put the Minutemen ahead 66-64 with 3:29 left.
After Jerrell Wright scored for the Explorers with two seconds left on the shot clock to tie the game, neither team scored again for almost two minutes before Tyreek Duren hit a falling floater in the lane to put La Salle up 68-66 with 48.9 seconds remaining.
Jesse Morgan missed an open 3-pointer, but Esho was fouled on the rebound. The freshman missed the front end of a one-and-one. Earl Pettis grabbed the rebound for the Explorers and made one of two free throws after Raphiael Putney fouled him.
Williams missed a drive at the other end and Duren made one of two free throws to stretch La Salle's edge to 70-66 with 21 seconds left. Putney's 3-point try was off the mark, but Esho put back the rebound and was fouled. He made the free throw to bring UMass within 70-69 with 13.1 seconds left.
Morgan fouled Duren, who made both free throws with 10.4 seconds left to extend the Explorers' lead to 72-69. Williams nearly turned the ball over crossing half court, but recovered and put up a 3-pointer with three seconds left. It was off the mark, but Williams tapped the rebound quickly out to Vinson, who instantly pulled the trigger, a step too close.
“Close games are always tougher because you figure you put in extra effort to get the extra possessions or the extra shots or the extra passes,” Williams said. “For you to come up short, that's like taking away your dream. It did take a big punch out of us today. But we're the type of team that bounces back.”
The Minutemen (18-8, 7-5 Atlantic 10), which lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, will host Xavier at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Missed free throws and 3-pointers haunted the Minutemen on Saturday, who made just nine of 18 from the line and four of 17 (one of nine in the second half) from behind the arc.
“I thought that hurt us a little bit. You can't go nine for 18 from the free throw line at home,” Kellogg said. “We missed numerous open 3s. Jesse had three or four of them that were, I thought, open. That kind of was what happened to us at St. Joe's the other day. We missed open shots.”
The loss came despite a career night for Esho, who had a career-high 18 points to go with six rebounds and three steals.
“That's kind of what bothers me, that Maxie had 18 and we still lost. You would think that if he has 18 points and six rebounds, that huge boost would give us the victory,” Kellogg said. “I thought he changed the complexion of the game with his energy and his athleticism.
“The way it looks right now, if I'm watching as the coach, I would say he needs to play more,” he added. “He's done that quite often. Now he's just got to be more consistent and continue to give it to us.”
Putney (seven rebounds, three blocks) added 17 points, but just four came in the second half. Williams had 11 points, 10 assists (two turnovers) and seven rebounds.
Pettis paced La Salle (18-9, 7-5 A-10) with 18 points (17 in the first half), while Ramon Galloway, Duren and Wright each had 15.
“I thought La Salle played a good basketball game. I thought we were sloppy at times and didn't take advantage of some opportunities,” Kellogg said. “When we had our chances to, I guess, win the basketball game, we didn't take advantage.”
UMass men's basketball in critical stretch of games
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 2/20/2012
AMHERST - With the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team in the midst of its first losing streak of the season and three very difficult games up next on the schedule, coach Derek Kellogg admitted the season is at a critical juncture following Saturday's 72-71 loss to La Salle.
“A lot of the kids haven't been in this situation before,” he said. “It's their first time … when they're playing a lot of minutes. The schedule's difficult. Starting back with St. Joe's and kind of coming through all the way to the end, it's a battle every night.
“You hope you can win a couple of these close games to give them that confidence say that we can continue to push forward,” Kellogg added. “But we do have guys that are basketball players. I think they're going to continue to come and compete. But like all kids, they can be fragile at times. I have to be conscious how I deal with them.”
Kellogg believes having the middle of last week off was more of a hindrance than a help, and he is glad that the next game against Xavier (7 p.m. Tuesday at the Mullins Center) will come quickly.
“I think it's time to play. This past week was too long. We were ready to play on Wednesday,” he said. “This time of year, it's time to play.
“You can only do so much in practice,” Kellogg added. “I can only go so long. I think it's time to play games and figure things out on the fly a little bit, through tape and mental preparation. Honestly, at this point, you put the game plan together. Guys have to go play.”
After a two-game home stand, the Minutemen return to the road to play at Dayton on Saturday and at Temple on Feb. 29.
STANDINGS - The loss dropped UMass into a three-way tie for fifth place with La Salle and St. Bonaventure at 7-5. Temple is alone in first at 10-2, a half game ahead of Saint Louis (10-3).
Xavier (8-4), which beat Dayton 86-83 in overtime is in third, while Saint Joseph's (8-5), which held on to beat George Washington 73-66, is in fourth.
The Minutemen have clinched a berth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, and if they win one more game could finish no worse than ninth.
NEXT UP - UMass (18-8) will play at rare Tuesday night game against the Musketeers (17-9).
TAILGATING - Among the odd results of a warm winter has been February tailgating as a tent and a large grill were set up behind the Mullins Center where fans ate and drank before the game.
MISCELLANEOUS - The Minuteman football team's all-time leading rusher Marcel Shipp, who was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame Friday, was among the 6,283 in attendance. It was the second largest home crowd at UMass this year and the third largest crowd overall for the Minutemen.
Chaz Williams had 10 assists for the second straight game and the third time this season. With 161 this season, he needs just one to tie the UMass sophomore record set by Kellogg in 1992-93.
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at http://www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.
Terrell Vinson can't arc in a win for Minutemen (2/19/2012)
Last-second hoop proves not enough for UMass (2/19/2012)
Minutemen miss point (2/19/2012)
La Salle edges UMass (2/19/2012)
|Points in the paint||28|
|Points off turnovers||15|
|Second chance points||7|
|Fast break points||9|
|Points in the paint||46|
|Points off turnovers||24|
|Second chance points||19|
|Fast break points||10|
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||OT1||OT2||OT3||Final|
|Officials||Dave Draucker, Frankie Bordeaux, Alfred W. Smith|