by Kevin McCaskill Jr.
1/12/23 * 3:20 AM
(AMHERST, MA) - The La Salle Explorers made the trek north to Amherst, to take on the Minutemen from UMass. La Salle won their last game, on Saturday, against Rhode Island; UMass lost on the same day to George Washington. That loss put UMass at 1-2 in the Atlantic 10. UMass was looking to get to .500 with a win on Wednesday.
The 1st half went well for UMass. The Minutemen came out hot from the perimeter. Matt Cross, Noah Fernandes and Dyondre Dominguez all hit threes in the first half.
La Salle settled in on defense and began to make things difficult for UMass on offense. The Explorers cut an eight-point Minutemen lead down to four, 32-28, with four minutes left in the half. The Explorers Guards continued to get in the paint and create easy shots. On the other end, UMass was getting the shots they wanted.
The Minutemen led at halftime 44-38.
La Salle opened the 2nd half with a 12-6 run led by Junior Guard Jhamir Brickus. He hit multiple 3s that were well defended by UMass. A Brickus jumper tied the game at 50. The game was tied once again at 53. Brickus made another 3 to give them the lead 56-53. La Salle never relinquished the lead.
UMass couldn’t stop La Salle on offense until the last 6 minutes of the game. In that time, La Salle made one FG and one FT and they were still able to hold on for the win.
UMass’ defense gave them an opportunity to regain the lead and win the game.
Down by 3, RJ Luis made a nice pass to a rolling Wildens Leveque. Leveque finished above the rim. UMass was down 1, 78-77.
The Minutemen forced the Explorers into a shot clock violation. There was 16 seconds left in the game.
The ball was in the hands of Fernandes. He tried to get off a tough jumper in the right corner but was defended well by La Salle Guard Khalil Brantley.
The Minutemen lost to the Explorers 78-77.
Brickus scored a game-high 25 points. Daeshon Shepherd scored 11 points.
Fernandes led the Minutemen with 15 points. RJ Luis scored 14 points. Matt Cross had 13 points and 9 rebounds. Dyondre Dominguez scored 12 points.
After the game, Fernandes said, “I tried to get a good look at the end but couldn’t…sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want”.
Some quotes from HC Frank Martin:
“Going into Christmas, the best part about our team was our team defense. Ever since we got back from Christmas, our team defense is non-existent”.
“When you don’t defend, you have no chance to win”.
“I like coaching guys that play with energy and relentless mindsets and that’s part of building a program…”
UMass is now 10-6 overall, 1-3 in the Atlantic 10 (13th place). UMass’ next game is at home against Rhode Island.