by Kevin McCaskill Jr.
1/25/24 * 3:35 PM
(AMHERST, MA) - Lynn Greer III had 5 points and 4 rebounds with 12.5 seconds left in the game. The Saint Joseph’s Hawks were down one point 77-76 to the UMass Minutemen. Both teams entered the game 12-6.
Greer dribbled down the left side of the court. Hawks Center Christ Essandoko faked a screen which caught the UMass defenders on their heels. Greer maneuvered around both defenders and got to the paint. He shot a tough, short jumper and it missed. He got a tap rebound and put-back, but that attempt missed also. He got another rebound, went back up and made the game winning layup.
UMass Guard Rahsool Diggins made a late heave with 1.4 seconds left but the attempt was off. The Minutemen lost another close game, this time 78-77 to the Hawks.
The Minutemen squandered a 13 point lead. They were ahead 66-53 halfway into the second half. “Too many turnovers”, was the opening sentence from UMass HC Frank Martin after the game. He went on to say:
“We took that lead and we probably had 7 consecutive of our worst offensive possessions we’ve had all year. Just guys fumbling the ball. And they weren’t like aggressive plays; they were just give 'em the ball and let 'em go shoot layup plays…We had no answer for Erik Reynolds".
Reynolds scored a game-high 31 points. He was consistent scoring in both halves. He can score from all three levels and he is fearless going into the lane. There were two NBA Scouts at the game, representing the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics, respectively. Essandoko has the height scouts are always after. Reynolds should be high on draft boards if he decides to go pro.
HC Martin wasn’t satisfied with the defensive effort on Tuesday night.
“All they did was shoot layups…guy on the ball was no good, our help defense was no good…get outrun down the court, guys don’t cross the half-court line…”.
Diggins led the scoring effort for the Minutemen with 17 points.
After the game, Diggins said the Minutemen need to focus on “rebounding”.
Diggins on guarding Erik Reynolds: “He moves with a tremendous pace, doesn’t stop moving…he sprints off screens. He has a high motor and he is very aggressive. [He] has the green light and will shoot it, with any space”.
St. Joe’s HC Bill Lange: “A really competitive game. I’m proud of our guys fight to come back like that and to take the lead and win the game the way we did, just shows a lot of guts from our guys”.
The Minutemen have lost 3 of their last 4 games. They head west to take on Saint Louis, this Saturday.
The Billikens are having a tough season and HC Travis Ford skipped out on the press conference, at home, after a loss to Davidson last night. The Minutemen have had trouble on the road in A10 play for years now.
Winning the game on Saturday would be a big piece in “building the program” HC Martin speaks of. The Minutemen have to win games on the road, in A10 conference play.