UMass Returns To Philly To Battle La Salle On Sunday At 5 p.m.
UMASS (10-16, 5-8) at LA SALLE (15-12, 6-7)
UMass Returns To Philly To Battle La Salle On Sunday
In the win at The Palestra, Chris Lowe set the UMass career record for assists with seven, passing Carl Smith (633) for all-time UMass record. Lowe now has 651 career assists to stand sixth in career assists in Atlantic 10 history. Next on the list is St. Bonaventure's Marques Green (657). Lowe ranks tied for eighth in the NCAA in assists per game at 6.4, second in the A-10 to Charlotte's DiJuan Harris (7.1). Lowe has led the league in two of the last three years and is seeking to become the first three-time league leader in history.
Tony Gaffney became the first player in the NCAA to have 100 blocks (reached against Rhode Island on Feb. 18) and 50 steals (achieved vs. Duquesne on Feb. 25) since Duke's Shelden Williams posted the remarkable accomplishment in 2005-06. Gaffney currently has 107 blocks and 51 steals. Since 1996-97, only five players have reached that combination in a single season. Gaffney is third in the NCAA in blocks per game (4.1), which leads the A-10. He is also 16th in rebounding (10.4) and tied for 51st in steals per game (2.0). Both of those marks are second in the Atlantic 10.
Sunday's game will be available through UMass All-Access on UMassAthletics.com as well as the UMass Sports Network with Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney on the call. Listen on 100.9 FM WRNX, the flagship station along with 830 AM WCRN in Eastern Mass.
The Series With La Salle
Earlier this season, La Salle ended UMass' mini winning streak with a 62-54 win at the Mullins Center on Jan. 24.
UMass had won three in a row in the series, before this season's loss, that followed a run where La Salle won five of six from 2003 to 2006. UMass won six straight meetings from 1991-98.
All-time UMass is 7-3 in Amherst and 5-3 at La Salle. The first meeting was an 82-75 win for La Salle on Dec. 30, 1971 in Philadelphia.
UMass coach Derek Kellogg coached against La Salle for the first time earlier this year. La Salle joined the Atlantic 10 in 1994-95, Kellogg's senior season and the Minutemen beat the Explorers, 87-64 in Atlantic City. That was a homecoming for AC native Lou Roe. La Salle coach John Giannini stands 4-6 against UMass (4-4 since moving to La Salle, as he lost twice at Maine).
EARLIER THIS YEAR VS. LA SALLE: Tony Gaffney registered his seventh double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds, but the Minutemen suffered a tough shooting day, falling to La Salle, 62-54, at the Mullins Center as UMass Celebrated the Era of the 1980s. UMass shot just 26.5 percent in the second half and 33.9 percent for the game. The Minutemen fell to 7-11 overall and 2-3 in the A-10, while La Salle moved to 11-7 and 2-2 in conference. The Minutemen shot only 14 percent (3-for-21) on 3-pointers while La Salle was 25 percent (4-for-16). Chris Lowe also tallied 10 points while Anthony Gurley added eight. Rodney Green led the way for the Explorers with 22 points. The complete box score and recap is on Page 22.
LAST YEAR'S LA SALLE GAME: UMass put together one of its most complete performances of the season in a rousing 100-63 win over a hot La Salle team on Senior Night at the Mullins Center. The A-10's leading scorer Gary Forbes scored his 1,000th point at UMass as he racked up 26 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Lowe posted a triple-double with 14 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Three other Minutemen reached double-figures as Ricky Harris scored 21, Dante Milligan tallied 18 points, six rebounds and blocked five shots. Etienne Brower started slow, but finished with 13 points.
TWO YEARS AGO VS. LA SALLE: UMass seniors came out on fire and continued to click on all cylinders as the Minutemen pounded La Salle, 102-63. The Minutemen jumped out to a 16-2 lead in the first five minutes and proceeded to dominate the game. The Minutemen have won five games in a row and eight of their last nine with the win. Stephane Lasme made NCAA history with his fourth triple-double of the season, becoming just the third player to accomplish the feat. He had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots to join Jason Kidd (1994 at California) and Michael Anderson (1986 at Drexel) as the extraordinary trio. Rashaun Freeman tallied 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his Mullins Center regular-season finale.
UMass Playing 58th-Toughest Schedule
The A-10 has three teams playing schedules in the top 60 in difficulty: Xavier plays the 44th-toughest, Temple faces the 53rd-toughest and UMass is playing the 58th-toughest.
Gaffney Among The NCAA Leaders
With 107 blocks and 51 steals, Gaffney has become the fifth player since 1996-97 to have 100 blocks and 50 steals in a season. The last to achieve the mark was Duke's Shelden Williams in 2005-06 with 137 blocks and 60 steals.
Gaffney is tied for 51st in steals per game with 2.0 per game, which is second in the Atlantic 10 to Duquesne's Damian Saunders (2.3).
He is having a breakout senior season averaging a double-double with 10 double-doubles this season after none in his career in 81 games entering the season. He also had grabbed at least seven rebounds in 21 of 26 games and at least 10 in 17 of the 26 games. He has double-doubles in three of his last five games starting with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds at St. Bonaventure (2/14). He also had 19 points and 10 rebounds at Fordham (2/11) and 17 points and 10 rebounds at Saint Joseph's (2/22). Gaffney has 10 or more rebounds in eight of the last 10 games with that many against Duquesne (2/25).
Gaffney has three games with 15 or more rebounds, most recently at Houston (12/30) with 16. He also had 19 at Memphis (11/17) and 18 vs. Boston College (12/6).
Gaffney has five or more blocks in nine games this year including seven against Dayton (1/10). After that game, UD coach Brian Gregory called Gaffney "the best non-scoring player in the nation" for his all-around game. His career-high of nine came vs. Boston College (12/6).
Gaffney nearly had triple-doubles in back-to-back games on Dec. 6 and 10. In those contests he has a combined 32 points, 29 rebounds and 17 blocks. Against Holy Cross, (12/10), he had 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. That followed a titanic effort vs. Boston College (12/6) with 15 points, 18 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots.
Gaffney's 107 blocked shots already rank as the fourth-best single-season in UMass history. Stpehane Lasme is No. 3 with 108 in 2005-06. Gaffney's 166 career blocks is seventh in a career at UMass. Kitwana Rhymer (184) is sixth all-time.
Many of Gaffney's best performances of 2008-09 have come against national powers. At #25/23 Kansas (12/13), he posted 13 rebounds and six blocks. Against Boston College when he had 15 points, 18 rebounds, and a career-high nine blocked shots, his put-back of a missed Chris Lowe free throw sent the game to overtime, giving UMass a chance for its second-straight win over BC. Another outstanding game came at Memphis (11/17), one which Memphis John Calipari called him the best player on the court. Against the No. 13 Tigers, Gaffney scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds along with five blocks. He opened with 16 points and 13 rebounds vs. Arkansas-Monticello (11/11).
Lowe Sets Career Assists Mark, Nets 1000th Pt.
Lowe is tied for eighth in the NCAA in the NCAA with 6.4 assists per game, which also is second in the Atlantic 10 lead to Charlotte's DiJuan Harris (7.1). He has led the league in assists in two of the last three years and would become the first player to lead the A-10 in assists for three years in a career.
With his 166 assists this season, Lowe is ninth on the single-season list and can shoot up to sixth with eight more assists as the next players on the list are No. 6 Alex Eldridge (174), No. 7 Rick Pitino (168) and No. 8 Joe DiSarcina (167).
Lowe became the 41st player in UMass history to pass the 1,000-point plateau. Ricky Harris became the 40th earlier this year. Lowe is the first UMass player with 1,000 points and 600 assists and just the seventh in Atlantic 10 history.
Lowe stands sixth in career assists in the Atlantic 10 with his 651. Next on the list is St. Bonaventure's Marques Green (657).
Lowe is up to 32nd in career scoring at UMass with 1,082. Next on the list are No. 31 Jack Foley (1,081) and No. 30 Mike Williams (1,122).
Lowe has eight 10-assist games this season and 14 in his career, all in the last two seasons (all in the last 39 games). He racked up 11 assists vs. Duquesne (2/25)for his last double-figure game. Lowe had 10 or more assists in four of five games in December with 10 each vs. Hofstra (12/20) and IUPUI (12/27). Lowe had 12 vs. Holy Cross (12/10) and 11 against Boston College (12/6). He also did it vs. Temple (1/17).
The Mount Vernon, N.Y. product became the fourth player with 500 career assists at UMass after he gained five against Jacksonville State (11/24). He passed his coach Derek Kellogg (453) most recently at the end of last year.
With a career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5/08) - part of the sixth triple-double in UMass history (14 pts, 10 reb), Lowe moved past UMass Hall of Famer Joe DiSarcina (431) into fifth. Last season, he also passed two illustrious coaches who played at UMass: BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and Louisville coach Rick Pitino (329).
Harris Shoots Up 1,000-Point List
Next on the list for Harris to pass are No. 14 Clarence Hill (1,369). Julius Erving is 13th with 1,370 points in two years.
Harris has picked up where he left off last season, when he was named the A-10 Chris Daniels Most Improved player. Harris is leading UMass with a 18.3 scoring average and led the team in scoring in 16 of 26 games with 20 or more in eight games. Harris is 57th in the NCAA in scoring per game and third in the Atlantic 10. He dropped a season and career-high 35 points on BC (12/6). The 35 points were good for the 13th most in school history and only six behind the school record of 41 held by Billy Tindall on Feb. 10, 1968 vs. Vermont. It was also Harris' second ever 30+ point scoring effort. Two games prior, he netted 27 at Green Bay (11/29) and had 24 points at Southern Illinois (11/12).
Harris Rises on 3-Point Charts
Harris, who tied Carmelo Travieso for the single-season mark for made treys last year with 104, is rising on the career charts. Harris stands fifth in career made 3-pointers with 197 and fifth in career attempts with 536. With four treys at Green Bay, he passed Edgar Padilla (136) and his coach Derek Kellogg (138). Next on the list at No. 4 is Rafer Giles (221).
On the attempts list, Harris is fifth, passing Sutton(424), James Life (425) and Edgar Padilla (431) after passing Kellogg (362) earlier this season. Next on the attempts chart is Rafer Giles (592).
Harris had his streak of 26 games in a row with at least one 3-pointer ended in the loss to Vanderbilt (1/3).
Big Nights For Bonner
Bonner posted his first-career double-double at Charlotte (1/21) with a career-high tying 15 points and a career-best 11 rebounds. That performance came in a career-high 39 minutes, shattering his former length of 26 minutes by 13. Bonner also set or tied career highs for field goals attempted (11), made 3-pointers (3), 3-pointers attempted (8) and assists (3).
Bonner, who was injured on Nov. 12 at Southern Illinois, returned to action on Dec. 20 against Hofstra with a career breakout game. He posted then-career bests 15 points and nine rebounds. That came in just 18 minutes off the bench.
In 19 games (16 starts), he is scoring 7.3 points per game along with 5.5 rebounds. He has made 31-of-73 3-point field goals for a team-best 42.5.
Over his last 12 games -- which he has made a 3-pointer in each game -- Bonner is shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc with 22-of-47.
He also had a huge game in an all-around sense with 14 points including three 3-pointers and four drawn charges at #10/10 Xavier (1/31).
Bonner made a career-high four 3-pointers, hitting all four of his attempts, at Fordham (2/11).
On the defensive end, Bonner has been just amazing at drawing charges. He has taken 23 offensive fouls in just 16 games, more than one a game including a career high four on twice at #10/10 Xavier and vs. Hofstra (12/20). Bonner has 23 of UMass' 32 drawn charges as a team this season.
Gurley Going Great Guns
Gurley has come off the bench for the last three games as Matt Glass has been inserted into the starting line-up. Gurley netted 18 points off the pine against Duquesne (2/25). Glass has averaged 7.8 points as a starter this year.
Gurley has scored in double-figures 14 times this season most recently with 18 vs. Duquesne. Gurley's best scoring game with UMass came against Hofstra (12/20) when he tallied 19.
He has been great in the second half of two of UMass' biggest wins of the season as he netted 13 of his 16 in the final 20 minutes of the win over Dayton (1/10), making four 3-pointers. A week later against Temple (1/17) on ESPN2, Gurley knocked down 13 of his 16 points in the second half including a 4-point play as he was a perfect 3-of-3 in the second half on 3-pointers. Gurley hit a second 4-point play against La Salle (1/24).
Off To See The United States
UMass Against Ranked Teams
UMass has won four of its last 12 games against ranked teams dating to 2004. UMass lost at Memphis, 80-58 on Nov. 17, 2008. Last season the Minutemen were 1-2 against ranked teams with the win at Dayton, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008.
Last season, UMass broke a five-game losing streak against ranked teams with its 82-71 win at #14/18 Dayton on Jan. 16. The Minutemen's previous win over a ranked team came at #21 George Washington (76-74 in OT on Jan. 15, 2005). That was the second win a row over a ranked team that season as UMass also beat #7 UConn (61-59 on Dec. 9, 2004). In both those wins, three-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 honoree Rashaun Freeman hit the game-winning shot, beating UConn with 4.3 seconds left and topping the Colonials with a lay-up with 0.4 left in overtime.
UMass 5-1 Vs Defending NCAA Champs
UMass head coach Derek Kellogg has been a part of three of the wins over the champ as a player in 1993 and 1994 and the head coach in 2008 vs. Kansas.
On Dec. 9, 2004 as the Minutemen downed No. 7 UConn at the Mullins Center, 61-59 as Rashaun Freeman scored with seconds left to lift UMass to the historic win. The game marked the first time a defending champion visited the Mullins Center. UMass knocked off North Carolina, 91-86, in overtime on Nov. 24, 1993 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden.
One year later, UMass thumped Arkansas, 104-80, on Nov. 25, 1994 in the Tip-Off Classic at the Springfield Civic Center.
That win over No. 1 Arkansas is symbolic, as it vaulted UMass to the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for the first time in school history. Last week was the 14-year anniversary of the school's first No. 1 ranking, as the Minutemen played their first game as the No. 1 team on Dec. 3, 1994.
UMass' only loss against a champ came on Nov. 22, 1999, as the Minutemen lost to UConn at Gampel Pavilion, 79-65, on Nov. 22, 1999.
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