The Associated Press
The Boston Globe
ike most teams, the University of Massachusetts plays best when working with motivating tools. Since the 1991-92 season, the Minutemen have used revenge like a sledgehammer.
During that span, only Cincinnati, Kentucky and Kansas have won consecutive games over UMass, and no team has beaten the Minutemen twice in the same season.
Keep that in mind tonight as fifth-ranked UMass hosts a George Washington team that upset it, 78-75, Feb. 4. The loss ended the Minutemen's five-week reign as the No. 1 team in the nation, their 16-game winning streak (the nation's longest) and their bid to become only the second team in Atlantic 10 history to finish the conference slate undefeated.
The Minutemen (18-2, 9-1) will put the nation's longest on-campus winning streak (41 straight, including 27 at Mullins Center) on the line tonight. GWU has not won at UMass since the 1987-88 season.
While UMass players didn't use the "R word," they said they won't have trouble getting motivated tonight.
"I think that game comes right at a good time, right after a good game the team played," said UMass point guard Derek Kellogg, referring to a 94-63 rout of Southwestern Louisiana Saturday. "We're going to be ready for the game. They're going to be ready for us. It's going to be a dogfight, but hopefully we will come out and execute and take advantage."
UMass coach John Calipari said opponents have no trouble getting motivated to play the Minutemen, but often the reverse isn't true.
"The problem is we have so many rivalries going, our team doesn't always approach the game well," said Calipari. "It's disappointing that we don't sometimes."
That shouldn't be a concern tonight, particularly since UMass has had more trouble with GWU than any other conference team besides Temple.
"George Washington plays a very physical, very aggressive game," said Calipari. "And it's a big game for them, so they come to play."
GWU coach Mike Jarvis said, "Anyone who plays UMass better be up for the game or they get killed.
"Our kids get up for the game, and we have always matched up well against them for some reason. I believe all but one of our games have come down to the last minutes, no matter how good we are or how good they are."
Since the 1990-91 season, when Jarvis arrived at GWU, the teams have split 10 meetings, with five games being decided by 3 points or fewer. In the Feb. 4 game, neither team led by more than 9.
After last week's game against Rutgers was suspended at halftime because of a student protest, the Minuteman held a closed-door meeting. They trailed, 31-29, in that game, which will be finished March 2.
The players say the rout of Southwestern was a result of the meeting; Calipari isn't so sure.
"It was one game, and I can't stand talking when it doesn't change anything," said Calipari. "If we have one game and we come back Tuesday and revert back, that means we did nothing."
GWU (15-9, 8-4) has had an up-and-down season; it lost to St. Bonaventure following the upset to UMass, then defeated Rutgers Saturday after trailing by 15.
Calipari said sophomore center Marcus Camby (hamstring strain) will play March 2 against Rutgers, if he is ready -- even though that would cost UMass a technical foul because he was not on the roster for the Feb. 7 suspended game . . . The Atlantic 10 announced yesterday that the UMass-Rutgers game will not be resumed at the Palestra in Philadelphia, as announced. The Palestra will be undergoing "extensive preparations" for the conference tournament, so an alternate site must be found.
MHERST, Mass. -- Alexander Koul and Nimbo Hammons combined for 34 points before fouling out and leaving their George Washington teammates to protect an 80-78 victory over #5 Massachusetts.
The Colonials also beat UMass on Feb. 4 to end the Minutemen's 16-game winning streak and knock them out of the No. 1 ranking. But instead of revenge, UMass got its first loss on campus in 42 games -- dating back to a Jan. 8, 1992 loss to West Virginia -- and its first loss ever at the Mullins Center.
Kwame Evans scored 20 points, Koul had 18 and Hammons had 16 for George Washington (16-9, 9-4 Atlantic 10). Lou Roe had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Michael Williams had 19 points for the Minutemen (18-3, 9-2).
George Washington led almost the entire game and opened a 14-point lead in the second half before UMass began chipping away.
The Colonials had a 77-67 lead with 49 seconds to go before Tyrone Weeks' put-back cut the deficit to single digits. Antoine Hart hit one of two free throws for George Washington, then Williams' basket made it 78-71.
Edgar Padilla and Hart each hit two free throws before Padilla hit a 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds left to make it 80-76. UMass fouled Hart again, and he missed both shots.
Weeks' tip-in made it 80-78, but with only 0.1 seconds left on the clock, and the Colonials only had to inbound the ball to become the first Atlantic 10 team to sweep UMass since 1992.
Koul fouled out after 18 points with 2:20 left and the Colonials leading 71-63. Dana Dingle hit both free throws to cut the lead to six, but the Minutemen couldn't get any closer until the final seconds.
A brief shoving match interrupted the game with 10:57 to go and Roe on the floor with what appeared to be leg cramps. The officials cleared up the fracas and assessed Donta Bright and Evans technical fouls.
Roe left the court but returned a minute later to key a 10-0 Massachusetts run that cut the lead from 14 points to four, 57-53 with 7:23 left. He scored his first time down, then threw a baseball pass to set up Padilla's dunk that made it 57-47.
Williams hit two free throws to cut it to eight and added a 3-pointer that brought UMass within 57-52 with 8:52 left. Roe made one of two free throws before Koul got a tip-in for the Colonials' first basket in more than three minutes.
MHERST - Know what a 40-minute wake-up call sounds like?
The University of Massachusetts does. The fifth-ranked Minutemen received one during last night's 80-78 loss to George Washington. The signal pricked at their senses throughout the contest, beckoning them to respond or suffer their second loss in the last 3 1/2 games.
Now they can't get the buzzing out of their ears; it's telling them to straighten up soon or watch a most promising season come to a shocking end.
The loss dropped UMass to 18-3 overall, 9-2 in the Atlantic 10, and ended the nation's longest on-campus winning streak at 41 games. It was the first loss ever for the Minutemen at Mullins Center after 28 victories.
GWU, second in the A-10, is now 16-9, 9-4.
It's red-alert time in Western Massachusetts. A team that once seemed like a safe bet for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament -- not to mention the Final Four -- now appears unable to sustain the kind of effort that earned it victories over Arkansas and Maryland en route to a No. 1 ranking.
Seemingly back on track after Saturday's 94-63 rout of Southwestern Louisiana (a win that followed a closed-door team meeting), UMass shot 31 percent in the first half last night, 35 percent for the game.
In a foul-filled contest, the Minutemen hit just 14 of 23 second-half free throws. They also missed 17 of 22 attempts from 3-point range. UMass trailed by as many as 14 against a team that knocked it from the No. 1 ranking with a 78-75 upset Feb. 4.
A partisan crowd of 9,493 kept urging the Minutemen to stage the kind of run that wiped out an 18-point deficit against West Virginia with 4:48 left. All UMass could do was make the game interesting.
"When the other team is playing like if they lose they're going to the electric chair, and we're just playing, we lose," said UMass coach John Calipari, whose team rallied from a 57-43 deficit with 10:38 left to 59-56 with 6:21 left but saw GWU stave it off.
"The thing that has been the great equalizer for our team over seven years is that we wanted it more than other teams. It didn't matter if we had good players or bad players. That's what I'm fearful we've lost now. Either we'll find that back or it's going to be a quick ending."
GWU already was one of just four teams to claim consecutive wins over UMass since the 1991-92 season. Now the Colonials are the first team to defeat UMass twice in one regular season since Rutgers and Temple in 1990-91.
The Colonials, who shot just 38 percent in the first half (41 percent for the game), jumped out to a 28-17 lead before the Minutemen cut it to 29-24 with 3:47 left in the half. But the Colonials closed strongly, outscoring UMass, 9-6, for a 38-30 halftime lead.
"When we play UMass, we know we're going to war," said GWU coach Mike Jarvis. "We know it's going to be 40 minutes of flat-out pain and torture, and if we don't play hard, we're going to lose. The way UMass plays is the way we play when we play well."
After UMass cut the 14-point second-half deficit to 59-56, GWU forward Vaughn Jones drained a bucket to put the Colonials back up by 5. UMass forward Donta Bright sank a free throw to pull the Minutemen within 4, then GWU guard Kwame Evans (a team-high 20 points) scored 5 in an 8-1 run that gave the Colonials a 69-58 cushion.
"Every time they had a run, we responded," said Jarvis. "That's the same thing we did in a win against Syracuse."
But the Minutemen wouldn't fold easily. Trailing, 78-71, with 38 seconds remaining, UMass cut it to 80-76 with nine seconds left on 5 points by guard Edgar Padilla. After GWU center Antoine Hart missed two free throws with eight seconds left, the Minutemen tried to score quickly but could come up only with a Tyrone Weeks tip-in at the buzzer.
"It's hard to go through a season without having a little dip, and if we're going to have it, let's have it now," said Calipari. "I'm not panicking. We've done this every year. We always hit a skid in late January/early February, but then we straighten up in March and play well."
MHERST - Lou Roe might be the strongest Minuteman, but he was not strong enough to carry the fifth-ranked University of Massachusetts last night.
Roe overpowered, outwrestled and outjumped taller George Washington opponents for much of the game, though not often enough to prevent an 80-78 defeat. But the effort exhausted him so much that he did not appear for the postgame interview session.
"They are trying to get some fluids into him," a UMass spokesman said nearly an hour after the game. "He's not coming out."
Roe performed valiantly against Alexander Koul, despite more than a half- foot height deficit against the Belarus 7-footer. But the Colonials constantly double- and triple-teamed Roe and won a battle of attrition.
Midway through the second half, Roe collapsed after an offensive rebound and was treated for several minutes for cramps in his right leg. UMass was trailing, 53-42, at the time, but Roe returned and helped the Minutemen rally until he left for good, replaced by Rigoberto Nunez in the final minute.
"He shot 10 free throws; that's pretty good," UMass coach John Calipari said. "Usually, he gets the crap beat out of him and he shoots five free throws.
"He played 36 minutes, and that is way too many minutes. I was trying to keep us in the game and I felt it was something we needed to do."
With Marcus Camby injured, UMass relied more heavily than ever on Roe. But where Camby often effortlessly blocks shots or scores inside, Roe must extend himself greatly to generate an inside game.
There is little question about his motivation or his willingness to overextend himself. Indeed, it was Roe's inside work that kept UMass in this game and inspired the rally.
Roe had 22 points and 12 rebounds, with half of his eight field goals coming on second-half dunks. It was more a blue-collar peformance than an exhibition of efficiency.
Several NBA scouts attended the game, curious to observe Rowe in a difficult situation. He answered some questions positively. Yes, he can lead a team by example. Yes, he can contend with adversity and pain. His physical presence is such that generic college players sort of bounce off him when he makes the slightest move.
However, there was no chance for Roe to display his shooting skills or ballhandling ability. Little actual basketball was actually played over 2 hours 10 minutes. Despite the absence of television timeouts, the game was played at an uneven pace, with protesting coaches and enthusiastic cheerleaders spending more time on the court than some players.
The most poignant lesson for UMass was that it misses Camby. He might have made things much easier for everyone. Though Roe fulfills the requirement of ''playing bigger than he is," he could not stretch himself to 7 feet last night.
|George Washington Colonials||80|
|Massachusetts Minutemen (#5)||78|
|at the Mullins Center|
MASSACHUSETTS (78) -- Dana Dingle 2-6 3-4 7, Donta Bright 1-7 4-8 6, Mike Williams 5-20 6-8 19, Edgar Padilla 3-9 2-2 10, Derek Kellogg 0-4 2-2 2, Louis Roe 8-13 6-10 22, Jeff Meyer 0-0 0-0 0, Tyrone Weeks 4-9 2-4 10, Rigoberto Nunez 0-0 0-0 0, Inus Norville 1-1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 24-69 (34.8%) 25-38 (65.8%) 78.
HALFTIME: George Washington 38, Massachusetts 30. 3-POINTERS: George Washington 3-11 (Evans 2-7, Jones 1-1, Hammons 0-1, Moses 0-1, Calloway 0-1), Massachusetts 5-22 (Williams 3-11, Padilla 2-7, Dingle 0-1, Kellogg 0-3). REBOUNDS: George Washington 40 (Evans 8), Massachusetts 51 (Roe 12). ASSISTS: George Washington 8 (4 with 2), Massachusetts 15 (Padilla 4). FOULED OUT: Evans, Hammons, Koul, Bright. TECHNICAL FOULS: Evans, Bright, Roe, George Washington bench 1, Massachusetts bench 1. TOTAL FOULS: George Washington 26, Massachusetts 29. ATTENDANCE: 9,493. RECORDS: George Washington 9-4/16-9, Massachusetts 9-2/18-3.
George Washington 38 42 -- 80 Massachusetts 30 48 -- 78