Rams hand UMass fourth straight loss

For The Recorder
Sunday, January 28, 2018

NEW YORK — UMass’ losing streak got longer, its confidence hole got a little deeper Saturday.

After its best first half of 2018, things unraveled quickly in the second half for the Minutemen, who dropped their fourth straight.

Fordham came in having lost six straight and was the league’s worst 3-point shooting team at 28 percent. But once the 3-pointers started falling, UMass couldn’t keep up and fell, 82-69, Saturday at Rose Hill Gym.

Both teams were short-handed. Chris Baldwin missed the game with a knee injury for UMass, leaving both teams with just six available regulars. While the Minutemen looked out of gas down the stretch, Fordham was energized by its lead and the crowd.

“We had some stretches defensively where we looked fatigued and they completely capitalized,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “We had great energy to start the game. Our guys were completely into it. We were a split-second late on some rotations in the second half, which led to some 3s for them. Then, offensively, the ball didn’t go into the basket for stretches. We missed layups. We have to be able to make layups to win on the road.”

The Minutemen led by 10 early in the game and 35-31 at halftime. Carl Pierre (17 points, four rebounds, three assists) hit a 3-pointer to open the second half to make it 38-31, but Fordham came to life. Prokop Slanina (19 points, 10 rebounds, four blocked shots) had seven points in a 19-2 run that flipped the game.

“The 3s were coming from all over,” McCall said. “They were coming from guys who don’t usually make them.”

The Rams made eight of 14 second-half 3’s as five players reach double figures. Ivan Raut made four of them en route to 16 points.

Joseph Chartouny had 16 points and 13 assists with four rebounds, playing all 40 minutes. He had three first-half fouls but wasn’t whistled again.

Pierre had just three second-half points. Luwane Pipkins led UMass (10-12, 3-6 A-10) with 18 points and five rebounds.

Unique McLean had a stat line worthy of his name. He had career highs in points (14), rebounds (12) and assists (five), but he missed 17 shots, going 7-for-24 from the field. The 24 shots attempted were more than he’d had in any three consecutive games combined. Nine of his rebounds were on the offensive glass, many on his own misses.

“We knew going into the game they were going to completely play off him,” McCall said. “I would like to have seen him get his athleticism into the game more and get into the paint and set up his teammates. He did some good things in the game. I would like to have seen him put some more pressure on the paint.”

Pipkins challenged his teammates to turn things around.

“We need players who are going to play hard, play tough and go get a bucket. You can tell who wants to play and who doesn’t want to play,” he said. “You can’t be scared of nobody. The Atlantic 10 is not a soft conference. Teams are going to go at you. At the end of the day you have to have some heart.”