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UMass drops sixth straight with 78-70 loss at Saint Joseph’s



Last modified: Tuesday, February 02, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — UMass played better than it has during its losing streak and better than it had in recent trips to Hagan Arena, but when the final buzzer sounded the result was the same.

The Minutemen lost their sixth straight men’s basketball game and their fourth straight at Saint Joseph’s, 78-70, Wednesday.

Sophomore Seth Berger wasn’t comforted by his team’s progress in a loss or his career-high 17 points.

“We made some strides, we’re playing hard and making plays, but we’re not happy with the result. We have work to do,” Berger said. “We’re not going to be satisfied until we win.”

Minuteman coach Derek Kellogg stuck with his pledge to stay positive.

“I thought our squad fought and battled today and looked like a UMass team that’s trying to get out of this rough patch,” he said. “The guys battled to the end. A few plays here or there and I thought we could have turned the tide and come out with a victory. ... This is something we can build off of. Let’s move forward and try to get some wins now.”

UMass (8-11, 1-6 Atlantic 10) hosts Fordham, Saturday at noon at the Mullins Center. The win was the sixth straight for the Hawks (17-3, 6-1 A-10).

UMass led 30-29 at halftime, but the Hawks surged out of intermission on a 17-5 run. While the Minutemen did a good job of slowing DeAndre Bembry and containing Isaiah Miles to that point, it was St. Joe’s complementary players who led the run that put the home team ahead 46-35 with 14:05 left.

UMass absorbed the early punch and stayed within striking distance for most the half. But foul trouble and St. Joe’s defense kept it from getting over the hump.

With 32 seconds left trailing 76-70, the Minutemen were clinging to slim hopes of a comeback as the Hawks had missed enough late free throws to leave the door open. Berger, who was in the midst of the best offensive game of his college career, elevated for an open 3-pointer. The shot bounced off the rim and Miles grabbed the rebound, immediately getting fouled. He made both free throws to seal the win.

Kellogg moved Berger from the starting lineup to the bench in hopes of recreating the spark he provided in that role earlier in the year. Berger delivered, but the rest of the Minutemen struggled offensively.

All three of UMass’ primary scoring guards were in foul trouble throughout.

Jabarie Hinds had 13 points, while Trey Davis and Zach Coleman each had 10.

Before he fouled out Donte Clark did a good job slowing Bembry, who torched the Minutemen twice last year. Bembry had just 13 points Wednesday. Isaiah Miles had 27 points and 12 rebounds.

The Minutemen were strong defensively early, but were playing out of control on offense. They rushed themselves into eight turnovers in the first 8:10 of the game, but had just one the rest of the half. New starter Antwan Space was particularly mistake-prone during that stretch with three giveaways. But he and the Minutemen settled down.

UMass trailed 14-9 at the midway point of the half, but Davis hit two 3-pointers in a 14-4 run that gave the Minutemen a 23-18 lead with 5:25 left.

St. Joe’s answered with four straight points and the teams went back and forth for the rest of the half.

After C.J. Anderson tipped in his own miss to put the Minutemen up 28-27, Kellogg called timeout. With Davis, Hinds and Clark sitting on two fouls, Kellogg put freshman walk-on Rayshawn Miller into the game for the first time in his career.

Miles hit a jumper from just inside the 3-point line with 8.2 seconds left. Anderson pushed the ball up the court and Miller raced under the basket. Anderson fed him for an open layup that gave the Minutemen a 30-29 halftime edge.

“You have to create your own fortune and destiny out there. We’re trying. We’re going to keep at it and keep getting better,” Kellogg said.

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


 


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