Stony Brook KOs UMass
Mullins Center 3/20/13. Umass #33 Terrell Vinson, launches up a 3 point shot over Stonie Brook's #35 Scott Kingin the 1st half. photo by J. ANthony Roberts
Mullins Center 3/20/13. Umass #34 Raphiael Putney, takes it up strong in the lane to the hoop over Stonie Brook's #20 Jameel Warney in the 1st half. photo by J. Anthony Roberts
AMHERST — If Kentucky’s loss to Robert Morris Tuesday resounded around college basketball with a lesson about teams’ willingness and motivation to play certain postseason games, UMass used Wednesday night’s game to further drive home that message.
The Minutemen, seeded second in their National Invitation Tournament bracket, played dispirited basketball throughout and No. 7 seed Stony Brook, already the winningest road team in Division I hoops this season, took full advantage.
Stony Brook hit UMass with a 17-0 run to close out the first half and stayed in control to the end for a 71-58 first-round NIT victory before 2,173 at the Mullins Center. The seed numbers may scream upset, but the Seawolves (25-7), with 13 road victories so far, played efficiently and comfortably, turned aside any attempts at a Minuteman comeback, and looked every part the team that wanted to be there.
“We got beat by a team that was better than us,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg. “They seemed more energized and quicker to the ball. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have a little more scrap and toughness and fight out there, but that could be attributed to their great defense and making some really good plays and shots.
“I was impressed with watching them on tape, and they were every bit as good in person.”
Anthony Jackson, who hit 8-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-5 3-pointers, and Dave Coley each scored 20 points to lead the Seawolves, while freshman Jameel Warney added 16.
In their final game for the Minutemen, seniors Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson led the way. Riley topped the 1,000-point mark for his career with a team-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and
Vinson had 11 points and five rebounds before fouling out with 4:33 left.
“We felt good, we had a lot of energy in the locker room. I really don’t know what happened once we got on the court,” said Riley. “Somewhere along the line, our energy just wasn’t where it need to be, and Stony Brook just took it to us.
“I would rather have us win than score my 1,000th point. It’s nice to say, I’m fortunate enough to be in the 1,000-point club and that’s a good thing. But I’m still upset that the season is over with.”
UMass’ Chaz Williams was never a factor Wednesday. The junior committed two fouls inside the first six minutes, then injured his right shoulder early in the second half and sat out the rest of the way. He finished with two points, six assists and five turnovers in only 16 minutes.
“He makes us go, and you can see we struggle with some fundamentals of basketball with him not in the game,” said Kellogg of Williams. “But he wasn’t playing great at the time, so I thought we had a pretty good flow for a while without him. Anytime you miss a first-team all-conference guy who scores 20 a game, that’s going to have an effect on the ballclub, and I believe it did.”
Maxie Esho added seven points for UMass while Sampson Carter, Cady Lalanne (seven rebounds) and Raphiael Putney each had six.
Jackson hit the first of his four first-half treys just 14 seconds into the game, and the action seesawed for the first 10 minutes before UMass could edge ahead by four, 25-21, on Riley’s steal and layup with 7:05 left in the half. Those were the last points of the half for the Minutemen, as Anthony Mayo scored inside, Jackson hit another three and Coley hit a short jumper off a steal for a 28-25 Stony Brook lead, forcing a UMass timeout with 4:46 to go.
The Seawolves kept it rolling after the timeout and Tommy Brenton scored his team’s last six points of the half to make it 38-25. Over that seven-minute stretch, the Minutemen missed all five of their
shots from the field and threw the ball away eight times.
Coming out of the break, back-to-back treys by Riley and Vinson pulled UMass to within 40-33 and Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell called a timeout. Another deep ball by Riley made it 42-36 with just over 17 minutes to go, but six was as close as the Minutemen would ever get.
UMass’ last charge came on a 3-pointer by Esho and a steal and score by Riley to make it 57-51 with 7:44 remaining, but Jackson and Coley answered with jumpers and Warney worked inside for a layup and fouled Vinson out of the game in the process.
The Minutemen shot only 9-of-30 (30 percent) from the floor in the half and picked it up to only 37 percent by the end, including 6-of-26 on 3-pointers, while the Seawolves hit 52 percent in each half.
Stony Brook felt somewhat slighted by the NCAA tournament selections, after winning the regular-season title in the America East Conference, but can now look forward to a second-round NIT game at No. 3 seed Iowa this weekend.
“It’s a great win for us. We did a great job defensively, once we settled down,” said Pikiell. “This is a good basketball team, we deserve to keep playing, and I’m really proud we’re going to get the
opportunity to stay in this tournament.”
Meanwhile, UMass can reflect on a 21-12 finish, its second straight 20-win season and an advance to the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, but the Minutemen clearly left their best
postseason basketball in the Big Apple last weekend.
“We played better and harder against the teams in Brooklyn,” said Kellogg. “We had all sorts of miscues, and they had all sorts of good plays. Everything was a little off-kilter. But they beat us, I don’t want to make any excuses.
“I want to get this program back to the NCAA tournament. We haven’t been there since (1998). That’s really what drives and motivates me and the team. We ended up winning 25 games (last year) and then 21 games this year. Now that’s the benchmark, that’s what we expect. It should be something that motivates you to do things the right way, and I think these guys do have the desire.”