UMass’ loss costs it A-10 tourney bye

Friday, March 28, 2014
AMHERST — Sunday’s 64-62 loss to Saint Louis cost the University of Massachusetts a bye in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament and set up a third meeting with Rhode Island, a team that’s given the Minutemen trouble this season, at 9 p.m. Thursday game at the Barclays Center In Brooklyn, N.Y.

UMass (23-7, 10-6 A-10) finished tied for fifth with Dayton, but lost the tiebreaker because the Flyers won the head-to-head meeting. Rhode Island finished tied for 10th with Duquesne, but got the No. 11 seed because it lost the tiebreaker. The game is on NBC Sports Network. The winner will face No. 3 George Washington, Friday at 9 p.m.

“It hurts a little bit because I wanted to be a top four seed and have an extra day to get ready for the A-10 Tournament,” coach Derek Kellogg said. “I would like to have sent the seniors off with a win. But we have a little extra work to do. Hopefully we can make a run in the A-10s.”

UMass edged the Rams 73-68 in Kingston, R.I. and 70-67 in Amherst on Feb. 26. The tournament begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Brooklyn when No. 12 George Mason faces No. 13 Fordham in a play-in game that’s officially called the “opening round.”

No. 8 La Salle plays No. 9 St. Bonaventure, Thursday at noon. The winner plays No. 1 Saint Louis Friday at noon. No. 5 Dayton plays the winner of the opening round at 2:30 p.m. for the right to play No. 4 Saint Joseph’s, Friday at the same time.

No. 7 Richmond plays No. 10 Duquesne, Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for a chance to meet No. 2 Virginia Commonwealth, Friday at 6 p.m. All the first round and quarterfinal games are on NBC Sports Network. Saturday’s semifinals (1:30 and 4 p.m.) are on CBS Sports Network. Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game is nationally televised on CBS.

UMass senior point Chaz Williams said the Minutemen will put Sunday’s loss behind them quickly.

“We have to stay together stay the course. Everybody is looking forward to the A-10 Tournament,” Williams said. “It’s one game and we’re done. If we don’t bring our all the first game, we could possibly be done. We’re trying to make our move with our best foot forward. ... It’s been a while since UMass had a conference title. That’s something we want to go out with. Just being in Barclays isn’t good enough.”

DAVIS ILL — After shining in the Minutemen’s win over Duquesne Saturday, sophomore guard Trey Davis was sick prior to and during the game. He played just 11 minutes and didn’t score. Kellogg didn’t find out until just before tipoff.

“He had a bloody nose and something else I played him kind of sparingly,” Kellogg said. “He wasn’t as effective as he’s been, but he gave his all in the 11 minutes he played. It hurt us a little not having him (play more).”

MILESTONES — After matching UMass’ career assist record Wednesday against Duquesne, Williams didn’t spend long tied with Chris Lowe at 678. Just 43 seconds into the game, he lofted a pass over defense to Cady Lalanne who laid it in. Williams finished with nine assists giving him 687. His 20 points gave him 1,611 in his career. He’s the eighth Minutemen to crack 1,600 career points. He needs 32 to catch No. 7 Tony Barbee on UMass’ career list.

MISCELLANEOUS — SLU guard Jordair Jett’s game-wining layup cost Kellogg $20,000 as his contract would pay him extra if the Minutemen finish in the top four. UMass lost for the first time in their alternate gray uniforms. They’re 3-1 this season with them. Former Minuteman baseball and basketball star Ray Ellerbrook, who was a longtime Northampton recreation and Look Park official was honored posthumously at halftime. Ellerbook died in September.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage