A lot of factors have helped UMass move to the top of the pack in the Atlantic 10 in terms of scoring offense: a fast pace, easy fast-break baskets, frequent second-chance looks and a very talented group full of natural scorers. Unfortunately Saturday night the Minutemen showed that no matter how good looks you get, if you're having a bad shooting day, it won't matter how easy the chances are.
UMass (18-6, 7-3 Atlantic 10) went through a huge slump shooting the ball in the second half and shot just 33 percent for the game, as they fell 73-62 to St. Joseph's (15-10, 5-5 A10) at the Hagan Arena.
Sophomore guard Jesse Morgan had another strong showing with 18 points and four rebounds, behind 4-of-8 shooting from behind the arc. Point guard Chaz Williams chipped in with a double-double (11 points and 10 assists) and had zero turnovers, but knocked down just 5-of-14 shots from the field. Senior center Sean Carter led the team in rebounds with eight and added four points and two assists.
Junior guard Carl Jones led four St. Joes players in double figures with 17 points as the Hawks shot 43.9 percent (25-of-57) for the game. C.J Aiken added four more swats to his total, while also adding 13 points and five rebounds. The most impressive effort came from forward Halil Kanacevic who finished with six points, six assists, two steals and two blocks to go along with his 15 rebounds.
St. Joes and UMass went back and forth in the first half with neither team claiming a lead of more than five points. A Jones three gave the Hawks a 29-28 advantage at the break, but head coach Derek Kellogg felt confident in his team's abilities to pull off the road win.
Then the team had an awful start to the second half, hitting just five of their first 24 shots (20.8 percent), before hitting 7-of-12 to finish the game, when the Hawks already had an almost insurmountable lead. After scoring four consecutive points in the first 1:49 of the half to grab a 32-29 lead, the Minutemen failed to score another four points in the next minutes of game play. By the time UMass scored their next basket scored their seventh and eight points of the half (12:04), they found themselves trailing 46-36 after a 12-0 Hawks run.
Even after a late flurry by the Minutemen from beyond the arc, they never were able to cut the deficit to than seven (65-58 with 1:11 to play), as the Hawks hit their free throws down the stretch.
UMass has an entire week to prepare for their next game when they host another Big Five team, LaSalle, next Saturday at 6 p.m. EDT.