Billikens spoil Camby homecoming party, 66-47

For The Recorder
Sunday, January 21, 2018

AMHERST — Not long after halftime, the same fans who roared their appreciation when former UMass star Marcus Camby was honored were quiet and sitting on their hands as the current Minutemen seemed powerless to prevent Saint Louis from building its lead.

The Billikens pushed that advantage to 26 early in the second half and coasted to a 66-47 Atlantic-10 win over UMass Saturday at the Mullins Center.

Minuteman coach Matt McCall was embarrassed that the large group of former players in the building saw his team perform the way it did.

“It means a lot, all the guys that decided to come back today,” McCall said. “What transpired in between the lines was completely unacceptable and not what this program is going to be about. You’ve got those guys coming back to cheer on a place that means a lot to them. For us to perform the way we did was extremely disappointing.”

A pair of freshmen paced the Billikens (10-10, 3-4 Atlantic 10). Jordan Goodwin was outstanding from wire to wire, just missing a triple double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Hasahn French, who former UMass coach Derek Kellogg recruited hard for the Minutemen, had 12 points and 10 boards.

The rookies’ rebounds were part of a dominant showing by SLU, which outrebounded UMass 37-25. The Billikens were dominant at both ends, grabbing more offensive boards than UMass (10-10, 3-4) had defensive boards, 16-11. SLU turned those 16 into 15 second-chance points.

The Minutemen, who played their fifth game without suspended center Rashaan Holloway, didn’t get their first defensive rebound until Malik Hines cleared a Davell Roby miss with 5 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first half. Only the Billikens’ nine first-half turnovers helped keep the game close (38-27) at intermission.

“They carved us up offensively,” said Hines, who had eight points and four rebounds. “From a mental standpoint they were tougher. They hit the glass harder. That hurt us.”

McCall said his team shied away from Saint Louis’ physical play.

“We wanted no part of the physicality of the game. It was the most physical game we’ve played all year. We ran from it,” McCall said. “All we talked about coming into the game was embracing that physicality and we didn’t do that at all tonight.

“Rebounding isn’t a technique. It’s a want. It’s a will. They got every loose ball,” McCall added. “We have no resistance, post defense-wise. ... This isn’t anything tactical. It was all mind set.”

UMass shot poorly from all ranges, missing 35 of 54 from the floor and 16 of 22 from outside. The Minutemen only went to the line five times and made just three.

Saint Louis was physical with Luwane Pipkins throughout. The minuteman sharpshooter had 17 points but shot 6-for-15. Carl Pierre added 13.

“We’ve had our issues this year with guys like Pipkins,” SLU coach Travis Ford said. “I thought we did a really good job of game-planning and really executing and slowing down an extremely talented basketball player.”

UMass is at La Salle Wednesday at 7 p.m. McCall said his team needs to come with a different mind set if it wants a different result: “I’m not knocking our players, but every time we line up and play, the other team has more talent. That’s the hand we’re dealt right now,” he said. “There’s more talent on the other bench than on our bench. More numbers. More talent. We can overcome that with the right mind set, with the hunger and the willingness to compete. If we don’t have those things, we don’t have a shot because they have more. We’ve overcome it at different times this year. We didn’t do that tonight.”