by Kevin McCaskill Jr.
11/15/23 * 4:25 PM
(AMHERST, MA) - The UMass Minutemen hosted the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Monday night, at the Mullins Center. Both teams were undefeated going into the game. This is their 1st matchup since November 2018.
The Minutemen came out firing from 3 point range. They hit four 3s early: 2 by Freshmen Jayden Ndjigue, one by Matt Cross and one by Freshman Jaylen Curry. The Bobcats stayed neck-and-neck with the Minutemen, counteracting their hot start. The perimeter players for the Bobcats got into the lane consistently on Monday night.
Midway through the 1st half, UMass HC Frank Martin implemented a 3/4 court press on defense. The press got the Bobcats off their pace. They started forcing tough shots. This gave the Minutemen an opportunity to get out in transition. Guards Keon Thompson and Marqui Worthy got to the basket consistently on Monday night.
The Minutemen kept a small but comfortable cushion between themselves and the Bobcats. UMass led @ halftime 45-36.
In the second half, Cross set the tone for the Minutemen. He made 3 consecutive layups at the basket. He moved Bobcat defenders by going through them and finishing.
Cross has the potential to a serious contender for A10 Player of the Year. If he can stay healthy, he is one of the best players in the conference.
Rahsool Diggins was also vital for the Minutemen on Monday night. He started to make shots from everywhere on the floor in the second half.
HC Martin is keen on getting players in and out of the game. Four reserves played over 14 minutes. Cross got in foul trouble early but Martin uses the bench heavily.
The Bobcats cut the lead to single digits early in the second half but they couldn’t keep up with the Minutemen.
UMass beat Quinnipiac decisively 102-81.
Diggins scored a game-high 22 points. Cross scored 19 points. Josh Cohen scored 11 points and had 7 rebounds, with 5 assists. Daniel Hankins-Sanford scored 13.
Amarri Tice and Matt Balanc both scored 13 points for the Bobcats.
After the game, HC Martin said, “Offensively, we have a chance to be pretty good”. Conversely, he also said, “Defensive rebounding without Matt Cross, is a major problem…It’s a team problem and we have to fix it”.
The Minutemen host Harvard on Friday night @ The Mullins Center.