UMass came back from a HUGE first half deficit to take down the Rider Brocs 77-67 friday night at the Mullins Center. The game was truly a tale of two halves.
There is not much to say about the first half. Simply put, UMass played terribly. They could not get open or make shots or rebound or play defense. All of this culminated in UMass being down 45-24 at the end of the first half. If it were not for Anthony Gurley’s 12 first half points, UMass could have been down by even more at halftime. To make matters worse, it was UMass’ home opener and there were a large amount of students at the game. The student section at basketball games are usually pretty empty, unless UMass is playing BC or another high profile opponent. So it was dissapointing to see so many students leave at halftime. At the same time what can UMass expect? They were down by 21 at halftime and played some of the worst basketball any of the students in attendence had ever seen.
The beginning of the second half seemed like a continuation of the first, with UMass scoring only five points in the first five minutes. From that point on things began to change. UMass began playing defense and forced Rider to take bad shots and make poor passes. With 16:35 remaining in the game, Sophomore guard Freddie Riley was subbed in to replace Terrell Vinson, who had a tough game. Riley had arguably the best second half of any Minuteman in the Derek Kellogg era. He recorded 23 or his 28 points in the second half alone, going 5 for 6 from 3-point range and making key free throws towards the end of the game to seal the victory.
Anthony Gurley also had a huge second half for the Minutemen. He recorded 19 of his career high 31 points in the second half and seemed to be unstoppable. Even when he was covered, he still found a way to get a shot off and hit it.
Redshirt Sophomore forward Matt Hill, who’s UMass career has been plagued by injuries, finally got a chance to play significant minutes. Hill was a defensive stopper. He played the final 14 minutes of the game and was really a defensive spark and prevented Rider from doing anything in the paint. Sophomore forward Sampson Carter was another Minuteman that stepped up in the second half. He led the team with seven rebounds in 30 minutes of play and was clearly a spark on the defensive end of the floor.
Freshman point guard Daryl Traynham had a strong second half. He didnt score in the game, but he recorded seven assists. He was subbed in to replace Gary Correia right as UMass started to make their comeback. This looked like a risky move on Kelloggs part, but it worked. Traynham showed good ball control and was able to put a lot of pressure on Rider’s star point guard Justin Robinson. Traynham ended the game with seven assists, two steals, and only two turnovers in 16 minutes of play.
The next step for the Minutemen is simple, play quality basketball for 40 minutes.
The Minutemen host the Pioneers of Sacred Heart University on Wednesday, November 17th at 7:00pm at the Mullins Center.
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Written by Jeremy Frassa