by Kevin McCaskill Jr.
11/10/22 * 10:55 PM
(AMHERST) - UMass played their 2nd home game of the week on Thursday night against Towson. UMass beat Central Connecticut State on Monday. Towson won a close game in their building over Albany.
Towson got control of the opening tip-off. Nick Timberlake made a “backdoor” cut on the wing. He got a good bounce pass from Cameron Holden and went up for an uncontested dunk to get Towson on the scoreboard. UMass Forward TJ Weeks overplayed the passing lane which Timberlake read and scored.
Two plays later, Towson got another easy shot off of a “backdoor” cut. On this play, Jason Gibson took advantage of a UMass defender overplaying the passing lane. Sekou Sylla hit Gibson with a pass and Gibson made a tough layup through contact. That layup put Towson ahead 6-3.
UMass kept the game close for the first half, of the first half. UMass Forward Matt Cross made his debut on Thursday and he was the main reason UMass was competitive in the first half. He drained two 3s to start his career in Amherst. He also got a steal and converted on the other end for a layup. That score pulled UMass closer 17-15.
UMass took their 1st lead after a layup by Rahsool Diggins. The layup put UMass ahead 19-18.
Towson and UMass traded baskets - Chris Biekeu made a layup for Towson; Cross
made a nifty shot in the post to put UMass up 22-20, with 9 minutes left in the 1st half. That was the last lead UMass would have in the game.
The Minutemen couldn’t stop Timberlake. He scored from every area on the offensive end. He finished with 27 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. He did everything tonight. He was helped by Cameron Holden who had 13 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists.
Towson led at halftime 42-28. The UMass starters had 5 combined points in the 1st half; Matt Cross scored 13 points in the 1st half.
In the second half, Towson maintained control of the basketball game for the remaining 20 minutes. They got every shot they wanted. UMass missed too many easy shots in this game. Weeks, RJ Luis and Brandon Martin shot 0/20 from the field on Thursday. Most of the shots Luis and Martin missed were right around the basket.
The leader of this UMass team is Guard Noah Fernandes. He had very little impact in this game however. He wasn’t looking for his shot; he didn’t drive to the basket with his usual tenacity and aggressiveness. He scored 3 points and registered 2 assists. The other player UMass needs to play big, in EVERY game, is TJ Weeks. He didn’t score and barely played in the 2nd half. Fernandes and Weeks have to be leaders on this team for UMasss to have a successful season. If they play like they played today, this will be a long season in Hampshire County.
Towson turned the ball over 17 times to UMass’ 11 turnovers.
Overall, the Minutemen looked lethargic on Thursday. Their energy and intensity level was at the same level as in the Matt McCall era. Coaches shouldn’t have to energize players on this level.
Towson beat UMass 67-55.
UMass is now 1-1, with their next game against Colorado in the Myrtle Beach Invitational. Towson is 2-0 and they play @ Pennsylvania on Sunday.