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Minutemen Survive in Final Seconds Over Patriots 66-65

by Kevin McCaskill Jr.

2/7/23 * 1:55 PM

(AMHERST, MA) - An inexplicable foul by a great player and 2 free throws by a rising A10 Guard clinched the victory for UMass, early, last Saturday afternoon over George Mason. The win improves their A10 record to 5-4, which improves their seeding in the A10 Tournament.

In the final seconds of the 2nd half, the Minutemen were up two points, 65-63. George Mason HC Tony Skinn called a timeout. The Patriots came out and ran a play that got Woody Newton an open 3-pt attempt. He missed the shot and UMass almost had the rebound but the ball got loose. A few players from each team dove on the floor for the ball. Ronald Polite finally got the loose ball and passed it back to Baraka Okojie, who went in for a layup and tied the game at 65.

Rahsool Diggins got the inbounds pass and was immediately fouled by Patriots Forward Keyshawn Hall. Hall didn’t need to foul Diggins so his decision, in that moment, cost George Mason the game.

Diggins made the 1st FT and missed the second one intentionally. Newton got the rebound but didn’t get a shot off in time.

UMass survived by one, 66-65. A win finally broke the Minutemen’s way in the final seconds.

After the game, UMass Guards Rahsool Diggins and Jayden Ndjigue, George Mason HC Tony Skinn and UMass HC Frank Martin spoke with the media.

Diggins: “We put a lot of work in, in the gym, us two, always getting shots up”; “It was the loudest [Mullins] has been since I been here”.

Ndjigue: “Our coaches are very big on crashing the glass and getting second chance opportunities for the rest of our team”.

HC Skinn: “There can’t be a more physical team than UMass”.

HC Martin: “Hard game…I’m really proud of our guys; we’re working really hard to create a winning mentality, a winning approach. We are doin’ it with some young bucks, man…”;

[[on George Mason’s strategy guarding Matt Cross]] “Their long…The strategy, was, as soon as he caught it, put length on him. Matt got a little bull-headed and tried to force his way through two guys and that’s not the time…They did a great job of their matchup zone, they kept their size near the paint…Matt’s our best dribble-driver…when he [drove] they always ran a second guy to him. When you play him in the paint, you gotta pass it to him in there. So when you pass it to him in there, they flocked to him. We gotta watch film with him, [this] is the first time anyone [has] guarded him like that…You gotta remember now, Matt has always been a ‘pick and pop’ 3-pt shooter. So all this is new to him. All this responsibility of having to score in the paint, dribble-drive, it’s all new to him…Give Mason credit, they had a great game-plan with him and Josh [[Cohen]]…”.

The Minutemen travel to Olean, NY to take on St. Bonaventure, Wednesday night @ 7 PM.

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