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UMass men’s basketball struggles defensively in 93-78 loss to Davidson

UMass men’s basketball struggles defensively in 93-78 loss to Davidson

Amherst – Same struggle, different day.

The UMass men’s basketball team fell behind for most of Saturday’s contest and could not overcome Davidson’s 3-point shooting, losing 93–78. It was UMass’ second straight loss and its most points scored at the Mullins Center this season.

“I’m disappointed,” said UMass coach Frank Martin. “Defensively, we weren’t very good which has been a struggle all year. Our inability to guard that player with the ball.”

The Wildcats (11-12, 4-7 Atlantic 10) went 14-for-26 (53.8 percent) on 3-pointers as Connor Kochera scored a game-high 29 points on 7-for-9 shooting (77.8 percent). behind the arc.

UMass (13-10, 4-7A-10) shot 3-of-4-for-11 (36.4%).

“It was definitely disappointing,” said Matt Cross. “They were hitting their shots, but at the end of the day, a lot of them got open.”

Cross returned from a non-COVID related illness and scored a career- and team-high 28 points in the loss. The junior missed the last two games, including last Saturday’s match against Duquesne, because he was in the hospital. Earlier in the week, Martin reported that Cross had lost “17–18 pounds” while ill.

TJ Weeks Jr. said, “If (Cross) is fighting, we all have to fight a little extra hard for him because he’s not 100 percent.” “If I see him fighting, I’m 150% going to fight.”

While Cross is back in the lineup, the Minutemen are still without Noah Fernandes and RJ Lewis. Fernandes missed his seventh consecutive game with an injured ankle, and despite showing signs of promise early in the week, it escalated ahead of Wednesday’s contest at George Mason.

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Lewis, who was named Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Week last week, is in concussion protocol after breaking his nose against George Mason and Rahsaul Diggins is nursing an ankle injury.

“I don’t see Noah coming back in the near future,” Martin said. “(Diggins) tried to make it go into a shootaround, but he couldn’t budge. … That’s where the adults have to step in and save the young people from themselves.

Despite three routine dismissals, Martin still had the same hopes for his team.

“We can sit around saying, ‘We don’t have this guy, that guy and that guy here.’ It’s all irrelevant,” Martin said. “You still have to play with a competitive edge to give yourself a change to win and we didn’t do that today.”

Keon Thompson made his second career start, playing 31 minutes with Weeks at point guard. The junior took turns when Thompson needed a rest. Thompson finished the game with a career-high 12 assists.

“I thought aggressively, they both tried to do what I told them to do,” Martin said.

Saturday’s game was Dr. Jay Day in honor of NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving, who starred at UMass from 1969–1971.

UMass will travel on Wednesday for a matchup against Fordham at 7 p.m.

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