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Notebook: UMass reaches critical point with losses in two of last three games



Saturday, February 22, 2014
OLEAN, N.Y. — Before he got on the bus to begin the trip back to Amherst, Mass., after Wednesday’s 78-65 loss to St. Bonaventure, University of Massachusetts junior big man Cady Lalanne acknowledged that the Minutemen are at a critical point in their season after dropping two of their last three games.

“This is a big important stretch. Even the coaches are challenging us to how we’re going to bounce back from it,” Lalanne said. “We have to physically stay together and mentally push through it. It is the first wall we’re hitting together as a team. We have to stay together and fight through it.”

Senior Sampson Carter was confident the team would weather the storm.

“We have to tighten up on the court as well as off the court,” he said. “We’ll bounce back.”

UMass coach Derek Kellogg agreed.

“I think everybody can see we’re not playing as well as we could be. But we’re going to right the ship, and we’re going to play well,” he said. “I don’t know what that’s going to lead to, but we’re going to play well and play tough.”

UMass (17-3, 4-2 Atlantic 10) dropped into a tie for fourth in the conference with Saint Joseph’s and Richmond. The Minutemen are two games behind first-place Saint Louis.

A BRIGHT SPOT — If there was a bright spot for UMass in its loss, it was sophomore guard Trey Davis’ performance.

Before Chaz Williams got in foul trouble, Davis’ 3-point shooting helped the Minutemen pull the Bonnies’ defense away from the basket. After Williams picked up his fourth foul, Davis ran the team effectively in the second half. He finished with a career-high 18 points.

“He made shots. I thought he shot the ball well,” Kellogg said. “Trey did a nice job of being a guy that can knock down some shots out there and he handled our offense pretty well. I think in stretches, right now, he can do it. For an extended period of time, he still needs to continue to get better. We probably have to do some things differently rather than relying on him to make plays every time down.”

NEXT UP — UMass will be back on the road for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game at Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks are 14-6 (4-2 A-10) after Langston Galloway’s banked 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left gave them a 60-57 win at Dayton, Wednesday. UMass beat the Hawks 66-62 in their earlier meeting.

RARE RANKED UPSET — The win for St. Bonaventure was the Bonnies’ first over a ranked teams since Jan. 15, 2000, when they upset then-No. 20 Temple. It ended a 24-game losing streak against ranked teams.

The Bonnies are 10-60 all-time against teams from the top 25.

MISCELLANEOUS — Williams’ six assists gave him 619 in his UMass career, moving him within 14 of Carl Smith, who is second with 633 for the Minutemen.