UMass basketball: Minutemen suffocate Richmond 69-59, hand league-leading Spiders their first home loss

Matt Cross scored 16 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the Minutemen’s win at Richmond on Wednesday.

Matt Cross scored 16 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the Minutemen’s win at Richmond on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Reports

Published: 02-14-2024 9:42 PM

The UMass men’s basketball team’s biggest win of the season came in convincing fashion.

The Minutemen became the first team to win a game at the Robins Center this season, capturing a 69-59 victory over league-leading Richmond in an Atlantic 10 Conference contest in Richmond, Va. on Wednesday night.

UMass improved to 16-8 overall, 7-5 in the A-10. Richmond dropped to 17-7, 9-2.

The loss snapped the Spiders’ undefeated home record, as Richmond was 12-0 at the Robins Center prior to Wednesday’s game. It was UMass’ first win at Richmond since 2012.

The Minutemen led for the majority of the game, rallying from an early 9-8 deficit and not looking back. They shot 21-for-24 from the free throw line and dominated the glass to the tune of a 46-29 rebounding edge.

Matt Cross was everywhere for UMass, finishing with a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Keon Thompson had one of his best games of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing eight boards, while Jaylen Curry (13 points) and Josh Cohen (11 points, 7 rebounds) made it four Minutemen in double figures. 

“Just proud of the guys,” UMass head coach Frank Martin said. “Richmond’s not an easy team to play against, they’re in first place for a reason. We made some adjustments in our halfcourt man-to-man defense which we had to do, and those kids, credit to them they did an incredible job.”

It was a dominant defensive first half for the Minutemen, which used a 15-2 run to snatch control midway through the opening stanza.

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The Spiders were held to just 31 percent shooting in the first half, and UMass held a 22-17 edge in rebounding to take a 37-24 lead at the break.

Robert Davis Jr. (9 points) helped spark the first-half spree, as the freshman hit both of his 3-point attempts. Curry scored 11 in the first half, including a pair of 3s, in just eight minutes of action.

The lead grew to 44-27 after Davis Jr. hit his third triple of the night, but the pesky Spiders made a run to answer. A Mikkel Tyne 3-pointer cut the lead to 51-43 with 10:31 remaining, but UMass scored six straight from the free throw line in response and never had its lead dip below nine points the rest of the way.

“Richmond’s a tough place to play,” Martin said. “You don’t get a win here unless you have a special group of guys.”

Cross was 8-for-9 from the free throw line, once again doing the dirty work down low and putting pressure on the Richmond defense.

“Matt’s a hoss, man,” Martin lauded. “Matt’s got the heart of a lion. I’m happy he’s on my team.”

The Minutemen, which won for the fourth time in five games, stay on the road for a Saturday game at La Salle (2 p.m.).

Women’s basketball

Rhode Island 86, UMass 64 — The visiting Rams used a big second quarter to create some separation and run away for a decisive Atlantic 10 victory on Wednesday night at the Mullins Center.

It was the 12th consecutive loss for the Minutewomen, which fell to 3-23 overall, 1-13 in the league. Rhode Island improved to 16-11, 8-6.

The Rams led 15-11 after one quarter but used a 24-14 edge in the second to open up a 39-25 halftime advantage.

It was more of the same in the third quarter, when Rhode Island held a 27-17 edge and cruised to the finish line with the decisive victory.

The Rams shot 52 percent from the floor and held a 40-31 edge in rebounding. Maye Toure led the way with 22 points.

UMass’ Kristin Williams scored a team-high 15 points, while Alexsia Rose scored 13 to go with eight assists. Chineye Odenigbo added 10 points on the night for the Minutewomen. 

UMass will stay home and host VCU on Saturday at 1 p.m.