Notebook: Lineup change doesn’t spark UMass in loss to Bryant

  • UMass freshman Ronnie DeGray III, center, drives against Bryant’s Hall Elisias, Monday at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen lost 93-88. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/21/2020 8:17:48 PM

Matt McCall’s line change did not have its intended effect.

The UMass coach subbed out all five starters just 1 minute, 57 seconds into the second half. Bryant led by nine. The Minutemen’s previous four possessions featured a turnover by Tre Mitchell, a Mitchell foul, Noah Fernandes missing a 3-pointer and a Carl Pierre missed 3.

He pulled out Javohn Garcia, Fernandes, Pierre, Ronnie DeGray III and Mitchell in favor of Kolton Mitchell, Cairo McCrory, Mark Gasperini and Dibaji Walker.

“He didn’t say too much to the guys that he took out. He was trying to find the five guys who were ready to defend and play hard,” Pierre said. “I think that was him trying to jump start the team and find a spark for us.”

Bryant promptly ripped off an 8-0 run that pushed the Bulldogs to their biggest lead of 17 points.

“The guys that are here, we’ve got be better at guarding the ball, we’ve got to be better at a lot of different things,” McCall said.

BREAKING THE PRESS — McCall called off his signature press just three minutes into the game. UMass trailed 8-3 at the time.

“Our effort wasn’t where it needed to be,” he said.

BALANCED SCORING — Five Minutemen reached double figures, led by Pierre’s 23 points. Fernandes scored 14, while Garcia, Tre Mitchell and Weeks all had 12.

BLOCK PARTY — There were 13 blocks in the game, seven by UMass and six by Bryant.

Bryant’s Hall Elisias had a game-high five swats. Mitchell blocked three shots, and T.J. Weeks swatted two shots, including one in transition.

HACK EVERYONE — The teams combined for 45 personal fouls. Four Bryant players finished with four fouls. Two Minutemen fouled out: Fernandes and McCrory.

BALANCED HISTORY — Bryant won 93-88 in just the teams’ second all-time meeting. UMass prevailed 85-76 in overtime in 1980. The Minutemen went 3-25 that season, while the Bulldogs qualified for the Division II NCAA Tournament.

Bryant began the transition to Division I in 2008.

MITCHELL UPGRADES WEEKLY AWARD — Mitchell was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the first time Monday. He scored a career-high 37 points at La Salle on Wednesday.

It was his fourth career 30-point game in just 34 games. Mitchell also had five rebounds.

He won the conference’s Rookie of the Year award last season and was a six-time A-10 Rookie of the Week, including five straight to end the year.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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