UMass Men’s Basketball defeated Fordham on final home day of season – Massachusetts Daily Collegian
The Minutemen bounce back from their loss to the Rams on Monday
Senior night went to the wire in the final home game of the season for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team, but the Minutemen cruised to an 81-73 win over Fordham on Wednesday.
It was Matt McCall’s final home game as UMass (13-16, 6-11 Atlantic 10) head coach after five years in charge. McCall made adjustments following the loss to the Rams (14-15, 7-10 A-10) and found a way to leave Mullins Center for the final time with a win.
“I just thought our physique on [Chuba] Oham [was better]”, McCall said. “We were sending him multiple bodies. We talked all game long, ‘get him to see bodies’, that was a key on the board before the game. He needs to see bodies, so we have to be in our loopholes.
McCall noticed late in Monday’s game that the pressure on Ohams rattled him, so he decided to start Wednesday’s game that way. When Fordham went out five times and Ohams went out of the perimeter, UMass sent their two players up the key to plug his lane, sometimes even putting three bodies on the Rams star.
That led to cuts to Fordham’s back for easy lay-ups, but the Minutemen could live with that if it meant Ohams, who is the nation’s top five in double-doubles, didn’t make the same damage as last time. He finished Wednesday night with 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
“You have to give Trent [Buttrick] and weeks TJ [credit]they spent the majority of the time on Ohams tonight, and I think those two guys did an outstanding defensive job,” McCall said.
Buttrick and Weeks’ impact on the field was not limited to the defensive side. Weeks led all scorers in points while leading his team in rebounds. He finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds and played the most minutes of any player with 36.
Buttrick scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The big man steadily improved as a rebounder throughout the season, leading UMass with six per game. Weeks and Buttrick limited Ohams as much as one could ask, keeping their personal foul count low and leading the team to an emotional victory.
“Me personally, I wasn’t accepting a loss tonight,” UMass guard Rich Kelly said. “I was like ‘We’re not losing tonight. That’s not happening. We came out pretty good in the first half and then they ran, and I was literally like ‘losing isn’t even an option.’
Another crucial change from the first clash between the two teams was the Minutemen’s perimeter defense. The Rams shot 58% from deep on Monday, but UMass cut that number in half on Wednesday night, holding Fordham to 29.6% from beyond the arc.
The last two days have been stressful to say the least for the Minutemen. It was unclear how McCall’s firing would affect the team in its remaining games, but they played light and confident with nothing to lose, a powerful quality for the conference tournament.
“I was just telling Rich [Kelly]’we just have to keep pushing things forward’, because why don’t we?” Weeks said. “Why not run now? It’s not too late for us, the season isn’t over, we We have one more game and the A-10 tournament, so why not us?
The Minutemen wrap up their regular season Saturday at George Mason, with the game scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @P_GraySoares.