Rhode Island dispatches UMass, 73-51

  • UMass coach Matt McCall warned his Minutemen about URI but it mattered little in Wednesday night’s road loss. recorder file photo

For The Recorder
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

KINGSTON, R.I. — There was no rousing comeback this time. When UMass got down Wednesday, Rhode Island made sure the Minutemen stayed down.

The Minutemen fell into another early hole and the Rams looked every bit like the Atlantic 10 favorites they’re projected to be, rolling to a 73-51 win at Ryan Center.

“They’re a terrific team,” UMass coach Matt McCall praised. “They’re where we’re trying to get to. But I thought we were completely back on our heels from when the ball was thrown up in the air and played the game completely scared and didn’t cut it loose. … When a couple things didn’t go well we didn’t respond the right way.”

On Tuesday, as he sized up what his team needed to do to compete with the Rams, the first words out of McCall’s mouth were “you can’t turn the ball over.” Then, before taking a breath, he added, “We have to make sure we take good care of the ball.”

His words looked prophetic. UMass turned the ball over 19 times, including 14 in the first half when the game as still in doubt.

Rhode Island was effective containing Luwane Pipkins, who had just 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting after averaging 35.5 points in his last two games. Nobody else filled the void. C.J. Anderson had 10 points but turned the ball over five times.

“They played better ball than us tonight. We have to have some heart,” Pipkins said. “They came at us. We backed up.”

UMass shot and handled the ball poorly in the second half, when the Minutemen seemed rattled and rushed by Rhody’s defense and overwhelmed at the other end. UMass had 14 first-half turnovers and shot 7-for-32 from the floor and 2-for-10 from deep.

The game got away quickly as the Rams jumped out to a 17-6 lead just under 8 minutes into the game. The Minutemen never got within single-digits again as URI pushed its edge to 40-20 at halftime.

UMass shot better in the second half but never really got within striking distance.

“On some of the offensive possessions we were doing things we haven’t done all year,” McCall said. “When guys are pressuring you like that, you have space the floor and just play. We did a much better job in the second half.”

Jared Terrell led the Rams with 24 points. Stan Robinson had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

The Minutemen (10-9, 3-3 Atlantic 10), who had their three-game winning streak snapped, host Saint Louis, Saturday at 2 p.m. The Rams (14-3 overall) remain undefeated in conference play at 6-0 and have won nine straight. URI is at UMass on Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m.

“We have to get better,” McCall said. “We have a rule: We can be upset and angry till midnight. After midnight, we have to flush it and move on. We have a very good Saint Louis team coming in with a lot of excitement surrounding the game, with Marcus Camby being back. We have to get better. Rhode Island is where we’re trying to get to. We can use this as motivation to get back in the gym and back to work. We’ll get another opportunity in a couple of weeks against them. But that’s down the road. We have to focus on Saint Louis.”

Despite the result, Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley praised UMass.

“Matt McCall’s done a heck of a job. Those guys are playing so hard for him,” he said. “You can see the job they’re doing on tape in terms of how competitive they’ve been. To have wins against Providence, Georgia and three straight in this league coming in, the guy’s done a hell of a job. Those guys play as hard as anybody in our league.”