Minutemen fall short in controversial loss

  • UMass guard Donte Clark launches a 3-point bomb from the corner over Fordham defender Antwoine Anderson Saturday at the Mullins Center in Amherst. for the recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

For The Recorder
Published: 1/22/2017 10:41:51 PM

AMHERST — Yes, it’s true that for the second straight game, UMass shook off first-half struggles to be in the game late. But unlike Wednesday, the Minutemen couldn’t close the deal.

After a chaotic ending with a controversial call, UMass walked off the Mullins Center court with a 71-68 loss to Fordham, Saturday.

After Brison Gresham completed a three-point play with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left to cut Fordham’s lead to 67-66, Fordham got two offensive rebounds before a DeJon Jarreau block forced a shot-clock violation with 1:30 left.

Jarreau’s entry pass into the paint was stolen at the other end with 1:17 left. Fordham chose to grind clock with its one-point lead. Then it got the ball to Antoine Anderson driving the right baseline, and his shot was blocked by Rashaan Holloway with 47 seconds left. Antoine Anderson grabbed the rebound, put it up again and missed. Prokop Slanina tipped the ball back in with 46 seconds left. All times are according to the official stats.

After UMass coach Derek Kellogg protested, the officials took a long look at the video and then huddled together to discuss whether a shot-clock violation had occurred before Anderson’s second shot. It was the third time in the game that resetting the shot clock had come under scrutiny.

The referees ruled Anderson’s second shot hit the rim in time, making Slanina’s basket good and pushing Fordham’s lead to three, 69-66. Kellogg said he didn’t receive much explanation after the review.

“Just that that was the way the play went, that’s how it’s going to stand,” he said. “I mean there were (three) times in this game where the clock was in, out, whatever it may be. It’s kind of crazy to me.”

Official Paul Faia said he contacted Atlantic 10 Coordinator of Officials Bryan Kersey. Faia said that explaining anything to the media about the call or what was being checked would violate conference policy. After the game, Kersey, through a conference spokesman, confirmed that the officials were investigating if there was a clock malfunction.

After Slanina’s tip, Donte Clark drove to the basket at the other end and was fouled with 42 seconds left. After he made both free throws, Anderson missed at the other end and Clark got the rebound.

Clark’s driving shot in traffic was off the mark, but the rebound went out of bounds off Fordham with six seconds left. Inbounding from under Fordham’s basket, Jarreau struggled to find an open teammate. Approaching a five-second call he lofted it toward Holloway in the paint, but Chris Sengfelder stole the ball. Kellogg said he tried to tell his players to call time out, but nobody heard him or reacted in time.

“I was yelling ‘Timeout!’ but obviously the coach can’t call it anymore. By the time somebody heard me, or whatever, the ball was already in the air. That’s a play that we’ve worked on in practice,” Kellogg said. “The object was to get either Donte the ball on the wing and have him drive it or over the top to Rashaan. We elected to go over the top to Rashaan, and unfortunately, I’m not sure what happened. He didn’t come up with the ball or whatever.”

The surprised Minutemen took an extra second to foul Sengfelder (20 points, 9 rebounds). He made both ends of the 1-and-1 with three seconds left to make it 71-68.

Kellogg elected not to call a timeout. Jarreau got the ball in the backcourt, raced over the timeline and hoisted a prayer that was off the mark as time ran out.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a win today,” Kellogg lamented. “I thought we did some good stuff for a while there on both ends of the floor. Instead of being 3-4 and having a little bit of a swag, we have to get back to the drawing board and get better and continue to work. We had some good things from some guys, but 16 turnovers from our starting backcourt is way too many.”

UMass lost despite shooting the ball well (24-for-47) because Fordham took advantage of extra possessions. The Rams defense entered the game among the nation’s leaders in turnovers forced, and the Minutemen struggled against their aggressive zone. UMass gave the ball away 19 times. Fordham turned those turnovers into 28 points.

“You know they kind of run at the ball and you have to make basketball plays and decisions. I think it’s a good defense for how they want to play,” Kellogg explained. “But I thought in the second half we kind of picked it apart. It was more not making the right play a few times and defensively coming up with those long rebounds.”

On top of that, the Rams (9-11, 3-4) got 15 offensive boards and scored 21 second-chance points.

Clark led UMass with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Holloway had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in 18 foul-plagued minutes.

UMass (12-8, 2-5 Atlantic 10) will play at Saint Louis at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

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