AMHERST, Mass. – A shorthanded Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team battled for 40 minutes, but a late run to end the game gave the 19th-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen a 66-62 victory at the Mullins Center on Wednesday night in the Atlantic 10 opener for both teams.
Senior forward Ronald Roberts, Jr. left the game early in the second half due to back spasms after an awkward fall and did not return. SJU was also without sophomore forward Isaiah Miles, who missed the game due to a concussion.
Saint Joseph’s (9-5 overall, 0-1 Atlantic 10) held a 31-28 lead at halftime, but a 7-0 spurt by UMass put the Minutemen on top, 35-31, with 18:16 to go in the game. The Massachusetts run increased to 13-4 after a layup by Raphiael Putney put the Minutemen ahead 41-35 with 14:05 remaining.
A Galloway jumper at 13:48 kicked off a 7-0 run for the Hawks; a three-pointer by Kanacevic and a layup by junior guard Chris Wilson put SJU ahead by a point, 42-41, with 12:09 to go.
Putney answered with a layup for Massachusetts (13-1 overall, 1-0 Atlantic 10), but four straight points by Bembry gave the Hawks a 46-43 lead at the 10:24 mark. Chaz Williams tied the game for the Minutemen with a three-pointer on the next possession, and the teams would trade baskets to leave the score tied at 48-48 with 9:22 to go.
The Hawks would score the next nine points of the game, seven of them by Kanacevic, to take a 57-48 lead with 6:23 on the clock, but from that point forward, Massachusetts outscored Saint Joseph’s 18-5 to secure the victory.
Williams scored eight of his game-high 22 points during the run, but it was a steal and dunk by Maxie Esho with 1:01 to play that put the Minutemen on top, 63-62. Trey Davis then made three of four free throws over the final minute to seal the win.
On the back of 5-of-10 shooting from outside in the first half, Saint Joseph’s took a three-point lead into the locker room at halftime. After a layup by Cady Lalanne got the Minutemen back within a point at 6-5 with 16:20 to go, the Hawks went on a 10-2 run to open up a 16-7 advantage with 12:55 left in the half.
The Minutemen responded with a 10-2 run of their own, but with the game at 18-17, Galloway hit a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 21-17 with 8:27 to go. UMass, however, scored six consecutive points to take the lead for the first time, 23-21, with 6:06 remaining. After a Bembry layup, Williams hit three free throws at the 5:41 mark to give the Minutemen a 26-23 edge.
Galloway knotted things up at 26 with a three before Kanacevic hit one of his own to give the Hawks a 29-26 lead with 4:16 to play in the frame. The senior then canned a pair of free throws before a Williams layup set the halftime score at 31-28.
The Hawks shot 48.9% (23-of-47) from the field in the game, including 13-of-25 (52.0%) in the second half. The defense held UMass to 43.6% (24-of-55) from the field and 5-of-15 (33.3%) from three-point range, including 1-of-9 in the first half. Saint Joseph’s also enjoyed an advantage on the boards even without Roberts, outrebounding the Minutemen 35-28, but committed 17 turnovers to just eight for Massachusetts.
Saint Joseph’s will head to George Mason on Saturday night for the schools’ first meeting as conference opponents. Tip-off at the Patriot Center is set for 8:00 p.m.; the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network and will also be broadcast on CBS Sports Radio 610 WIP.