Eagles routed by hot UMass
Derek Kellogg raised his arms to signal for his team’s relentless onslaught on Boston College to cease. Victory had been attained several minutes prior and it was time for compassion.
The UMass basketball coach cringed as he walked down the sideline to shake the hand of Boston College counterpart Steve Donahue moments after Jesse Morgan pulled up and launched an unnecessary 3-pointer with 18 seconds left.
It extended UMass’s lead to 36 as the Minutemen spent the final 35 minutes last night at Conte Forum punishing their youthful rivals, shooting their way to an 82-46 victory, forcing Donahue and his nine freshmen to ponder the perils of the season ahead.
UMass (4-0) was picked to finish in the middle of the Atlantic 10, and the Eagles’ next opponent is Saint Louis, Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. The Billikens were picked to finish third in the A-10 and just beat Washington easily at home Sunday.
The indoctrination for Donahue’s painfully young team will include nights like this, when the Eagles got caught up in UMass’s high-tempo game and were eventually steamrolled by the frantic pace.
“I was just disappointed with our effort in the second half in particular,’’ said Donahue, whose team was outscored, 45-20, after the break. “We were unable to be competitive within possessions. Certain things we look for. You’re going to hear this a lot. I know they’re young but there are other things we still need to compete better than we did.’’
The Eagles shot 31 percent from the field and Patrick Heckmann, who missed Friday’s loss to Holy Cross with a sprained ankle, led BC with 11 points, 9 from the free throw line. Offensive execution was a struggle.
BC made 14 field goals compared with 33 for UMass, and freshman forward Ryan Anderson (8 points) was held scoreless in the second half.
“I feel like personally, it’s been a transition for me already coming to the college basketball level,’’ said Anderson, who attended Long Beach Poly (Calif.) High School. “We’re not quite at that level that my high school was at. We started off executing offensively really, really well but we have problems sustaining it for 40 minutes.’’
BC will undoubtedly put Donahue on an emotional roller coaster, such as when the Eagles scored 16 points in the first 5:26 and then were outscored, 74-30, the rest of the way. Four Minutemen scored in double figures in the first 30 minutes. UMass started slowly and then began hitting perimeter jumpers. BC responded with confusion.
The Eagles attempted just 45 shots and committed 23 turnovers. Donahue was distressed when trying to find a kinder phrase for “giving up’’ to describe the second half. With Reggie Jackson, who watched courtside, leaving BC early for the NBA, the Eagles have little experience.
“There’s no one to look [up] to,’’ Donahue said. “There’s not two freshmen, there’s nine guys who never played before, so they are having a difficult time trying to figure out what I’m trying to say and there’s no examples to say, ‘You know what? Here’s how we react.’ I think they’re all trying to figure out how to come up with some accountability all for each other and take ownership of this team, particularly when it gets real rough during a game.’’
BC was coaxed into a 3-point contest with the Minutemen and eventually UMass began knocking down those shots after rushing in the first 10 minutes.
A Chaz Williams jumper gave UMass a 21-20 lead with 8:34 left in the half, and then a bothersome press caused several BC miscues and rushed shots.
Three-point specialist Freddie Riley drained his first of the game to extend the lead and even 6-foot-9-inch stringbean Raphiael Putney banked in a long-range shot for a 32-25 lead. BC went without a field goal for the final 5:51 of the half, limited to a Matt Humphrey free throw in the final minute.
“We’re not responding right now,’’ Donahue said. “These guys haven’t been through it. They are trying to prepare and they’re all in the fire.’’
Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com.