UMass basketball: Rhode Island torches Minutemen from 3-point land in 89-77 victory

UMass men’s basketball coach Frank Martin talks to his team during a timeout earlier this season at the Mullins Center. 

UMass men’s basketball coach Frank Martin talks to his team during a timeout earlier this season at the Mullins Center.  CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Reports

Published: 01-14-2024 11:29 AM

Modified: 01-14-2024 11:29 AM

A red-hot shooting performance sank the UMass men’s basketball team on Saturday.

The Minutemen allowed a season-high 89 points to host Rhode Island, as the Rams shot 51.9 percent from the field and 60.9 percent from 3-point land to roll to an 89-77 Atlantic 10 Conference victory at the Ryan Center.

UMass fell to 11-5 with the loss, 2-2 in the A10. The Minutemen are now 0-3 in true road games this season. Rhode Island won its fourth straight game, improving to 9-7, 3-0.

“Hard game… can’t go on the road and miss layups and threes and expect to win, especially on a day where someone’s making shots the way they were,” UMass head coach Frank Martin said. “Much credit to Archie [Miller] and his staff, and his guys. It’s day and night watching them play on film and then obviously competing against them in person.

“They come out and shoot the ball the way that they did today, good luck to whoever plays against them. We made some mistakes, but every time we made a mistake they made us pay.”

The 89 points were the most allowed by the Minutemen this season, surpassing the previous high (81) scored by both Towson and Quinnipiac.

UMass had no answer for the outside shooting of Rhode Island’s Jaden House (29 points) and David Green (24). The duo combined for 53 points on 9-of-14 shooting from 3. All told, the Rams drilled 14 3s in the win (14-for-23), compared to 3-for-15 for UMass.

UMass played without leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Matt Cross, who sustained an ankle injury in the team’s win over La Salle on Wednesday. Cross dressed but didn’t see game action against the Rams.

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“If you ask [Cross], he would’ve fought two tigers today,” said Martin. “It’s who he is. It’s my job to keep them out of harm’s way. I never have, never will play [an injured player] to win a game. Winning a game to me is irrelevant compared to protecting young people from themselves.”

Rhode Island stormed out of the gates 6-for-8 from 3-point range, building a 34-23 lead with 7:45 remaining in the first half.

The Minutemen were just 1-for-8 from 3 to start, but despite the wide discrepancy from behind the line, the visitors were within 48-39 at halftime.

UMass made a run early in the second half. Rahsool Diggins drilled a 3 and Daniel Hankins-Sanford followed with a layup to cut the deficit to 53-46 with 17:00 remaining.

But like they did throughout the game, Rhode Island hit a pair of 3s in response, and re-established a double-digit lead. A dagger 3 from House with eight minutes left made it a 15-point game, and the Rams’ advantage grew as high as 18 points (83-65 with 5:27 remaining).

Josh Cohen paced the Minutemen with a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double. Four other UMass players joined Cohen in double figures, including Jaylen Curry (14 points), Keon Thompson (12), Diggins (12) and Hankins-Sanford (10).

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak in the series for the Minutemen, which hadn’t lost to Rhode Island since Jan. 15, 2022. UMass had also won three straight at the Ryan Center entering Saturday’s contest.

“You look at the history of this league, those are the Rhode Island-UMass games,” Martin offered. “Absolute fights, with two teams that don’t get out of the way. I hope for the goodness of basketball in our pocket of the world up here, that Archie can build it, and I hope we can build it and we can sustain it.”

The Minutemen look to get back in the win column, and pick up their first road win of the season in the process, when they travel to Loyola Chicago on Wednesday night.

NOTES: Freshman Tyler Mason made his UMass debut midway through the first half. … The Minutemen held an 18-9 edge in offensive rebounds. That aspect of the team’s game has been a success thus far, as UMass is 15th in the nation in offensive rebounding. … UMass didn’t lead over the course of the entire game.