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UMass men’s basketball seeks different outcome against George Washington in A-10 tourney opener

AMHERST — On Jan. 19 in Amherst, George Washington ruined the retirement ceremony for Marcus Camby’s number at the Mullins Center.

A late comeback by the University of Massachusetts basketball team fell short in the 79-76 loss.

Tonight at 9 p.m. in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Colonials could ruin much more than that.

The sixth-seeded Minutemen (19-10, 9-7 A-10) likely have to make at least a little run in the conference tourney to have a chance for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“When a team beats you, especially in your place, it hurts,” UMass junior point guard Chaz Williams said. “It’s something you want to get back. You have to wait until the next time comes around. This is one of those times. It’s a great opportunity for us. This is a game we really need.”

Minuteman coach Derek Kellogg said he is glad to get another shot at George Washington.

“They beat us last time. They played harder,” he said. “They came up with more rebounds. They played physical. Our job is not to let that happen again.

“Anybody who beat us this year I would like another shot at,” Kellogg added. “I don’t like to lose. I think GW falls into that category. So I would like to play GW again. Hopefully the result is a little different.”

The Colonials (13-16, 7-9) are the No. 11 seed. George Washington entered last weekend in danger of not making the tournament, but beat Dayton on a putback dunk with two seconds left to snap a four-game losing streak and grab some momentum.

Both coaches believe rebounding will be critical.

Cady Lalanne took personally the rebounding struggles that UMass had in its 75-66 loss to Butler on March 7.

The sophomore big man took his frustration out on Rhode Island by grabbing a career-high 15 boards in the Minutemen’s 75-66 win Saturday. He hopes to carry that over into tonight’s game against a George Washington team that took advantage of a 19-11 rebounding edge in the first half against UMass.

“A lot of the rebounds George Washington did get, they crashed from the weak side and we were tipping them instead of going up with two hands and grabbing them,” Lalanne said.

Kellogg said it cannot only be Lalanne on the boards.

“Our defensive rebounding needs to improve. We need to gang rebound,” Kellogg said. “We can’t all watch Cady and yell to him to get the rebound. It has to be a team effort.”

Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said he is curious to see how his young team would react to the tournament environment.

“We’re pretty young and inexperienced, but I think our team is pretty confident,” he said. “We’re trying to win one game right now. We don’t have a guy in our program that’s won an Atlantic 10 Tournament game. I’m sure they’ll be some nerves in the first couple minutes.

“We know UMass has a great team and a great coach,” Lonergan added. “They’re very experienced. They made a run in the NIT last year and have most of those players back. It should be a good game. We just hope that we play hard and it’s a good night for us.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at @GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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