UMass basketball notebook: Saint Louis bullies Minutemen on the boards

  • Saint Louis forward Hasahn French and the Billikens dominated UMass on the backboards, outrebounding the Minutemen 45-23 on Friday. BRIAN MCWALTERS/ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE—

Staff Writer
Published: 3/5/2021 7:02:47 PM

Saint Louis won Friday’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinal over UMass on the backboards. The Billikens outrebounded UMass 45-23. They grabbed nearly as many offensive rebounds (15) as the Minutemen did defensive boards (19).

It was UMass’ worst rebounding deficit of the season by 10 boards. Saint Louis had 13 more rebounds Monday when the teams met to close the regular season.

“We got destroyed on the backboard,” UMass coach Matt McCall said.

No Minuteman finished with more than Tre Mitchell’s six rebounds. 

Jordan Goodwin, the A-10’s leading rebounder as a 6-foot-3 guard, led Saint Louis with 14 boards, five on the offensive glass. Senior Hasahn French pulled down 11 rebounds, while three other players had at least five.

“They’ve got a lot of big bodies, and they’ve got five dudes going to the glass every possession,” Mitchell said. “We were just watching the ball go through the air.”

The Billikens grabbed multiple offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions in the second half. With 6 minutes, 15 seconds remaining and a 12-point Saint Louis lead, Goodwin grabbed a missed Javonte Perkins 3. He kicked it out to Yuri Collins, who also missed, but Fred Thatch Jr. was there to retain possession and get the ball back to Goodwin. He missed, and a held ball gave the ball to UMass.

Carl Pierre cut the Minutemen’s deficit to 10 with two free throws, then Goodwin grabbed a missed Perkins jumper and missed the follow up. French controlled the board and put it back for a 12-point lead with 4:23 remaining.

“They’re getting two, three chances on the offensive glass, and you’re not going to win a basketball game allowing that to happen,” Mitchell said.

The Billikens are one of the best rebounding teams in the country. They rank 28th in the NCAA, averaging 39.22 boards per game. Their 12.67 offensive boards per game are 25th in the nation. Both marks lead the A-10.

“We’ve been playing with a bit bigger lineup here lately. The more shots you get closer to the rim, the easier they are to offensive rebound,” Saint Louis coach Travis Ford said. “It has been a point of emphasis. We’ve got a couple guys who are really good at it.”

COLLINS TAKES CENTER STAGE – Saint Louis sophomore point guard Yuri Collins scored 17 points, tying his career high set in December against N.C. State.

UMass left Collins, the conference’s leading assist man at six per game, wide open on its first defensive possession, and he buried a 3.

“Based on the numbers, he doesn’t look to score very much. Starting the game, we were going to double off him and get the ball out of Hasahn (French’s) hands because of the game he had against us in that last matchup,” McCall said. “We were playing the percentages, and it worked in our favor [Thursday against St. Joe’s] and did not work in our favor today.”

Collins set career highs in field goal attempts (11), 3-point attempts (five) and makes (two), and free throw attempts (seven) and makes (five). He added five assists, five rebounds and a steal.

“He was really motivated. Our last game against UMass a couple days ago, they played off him a lot. I think he was a little determined to show he can score,” Ford said. “We all know he runs our team. He can score, he just doesn’t look to score a lot. [Friday] he did because it was there.”

FAMILIAR FACE – Ford, who coached the Minutemen from 2005-08, won for the sixth time in seven games against his former team. UMass beat Saint Louis 67-63 at the Mullins Center last season.

He left Amherst for Oklahoma State in 2008 then took over the Billikens in 2016.

HARD TO RALLY – Saint Louis improved to 12-0 when leading at the half this season.

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