Poor free-throw shooting dooms Minutemen at Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team looks back on the things that went wrong in Saturday’s 66-65 loss at Charlotte, none will be more glaring than free-throw shooting.
Entering the game, the Minutemen were fifth in the Atlantic 10 shooting 70.9 percent (283-for-399), but on Saturday they missed 10 of 16 attempts.
There were no innocent parties. Everyone who attempted a free throw shot no better than 50 percent. Chaz Williams, a .750 shooter for the season, was 1-for-3, including a miss on a technical foul shot.
Freddie Riley missed all three that he took and Terrell Vinson and Sampson Carter were each 2-for-4.
“It’s hard to win on the road when you go 6-for-16 from the free-throw line,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We haven’t been able to shoot them as regularly. Normally in practice we shoot them quite frequently. But with a week of travel, we’ve been on the road.
“We’re actually a pretty good free-throw shooting team so I’m somewhat surprised by it,” he added. “But I think we’ll bounce back from it. I have confidence in our team.”
EFFECTIVE ZONE — With sophomore big man Cady Lalanne in foul trouble for most of the game, Kellogg used a two-three zone, not normally a part of his team’s defense, for stretches in the second half to counter the 49ers’ size advantage.
“Our game plan was to have the zone in and not get into foul trouble. That part of it didn’t work,” he said. “The second part of it was we wanted to make them have to beat us from the outside and I thought it was effective at times.”
BENCH SCORING – Helped a bit by the fact that regular starter Chris Braswell came off the bench, Charlotte’s bench outscored the Minutemen’s 32-9.
UMass freshman big man Tyler Bergantino played a career-high eight minutes, all in the first-half with Lalanne out, and had two rebounds and two blocked shots.
NEXT UP — UMass will host Rhode Island at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Mullins Center.
The Rams, who were picked last in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll are 6-14 overall and 1-6 in conference play after a 75-68 loss at Butler on Saturday. But Rhode Island has been more competitive than expected in its first year under new coach Danny Hurley, and boasts a win over Saint Louis.
MISCELLANEOUS — Williams, who already passed 1,000 points in his career, including his time at Hofstra, is bearing down on 1,000 as a Minuteman. His 16 Saturday gave him 1,269 overall and 944 at UMass.
Riley is now in sole possession of fifth place on the UMass career 3-point attempts with 599.
The listed attendance was 9,105, a sellout.
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 www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.