UMass Closes Regular-Season at Rhode Island, Saturday
UMASS (11-17, 6-9) at RHODE ISLAND (22-8, 11-4)
UMass Closes Regular-Season at Rhode Island, Saturday
UMass comes off an impressive Senior Night showing as the Minutemen cliched an A-10 Tournament berth with a 77-62 over George Washington Wednesday night at the Mullins Center. The senior class of center Luke Bonner, forward Tony Gaffney and guard Chris Lowe each show their skills in the win. Bonner scored six points, grabbed six rebounds, blocked three shots and took two charges to bring his season total to a team-best 26. Gaffney posted his 11th triple-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds along with three blocks and a season-best five steals. Lowe had 14 points and eight assists to bring his career total to a UMass record 668 helpers (fifth all-time in the A-10). Ricky Harris led UMass in scoring with 19 points. The Minutemen closed the game on a 29-12 run to secure the win.
Saturday's game will be available through UMass All-Access on UMassAthletics.com as well as the UMass Sports Network with Josh Maurer, Tim Kenney and Tim Collins on the call. Listen on 100.9 FM WRNX, the flagship station along with 830 AM WCRN and 95.9 FM WATD in Eastern Mass.
UMass' three senior players have made a major impact on the Minutemen in their tenures in Amherst. Each has played a different number of years with the Minutemen: Chris Lowe all four years, Luke Bonner three years after transferring from West Virginia and Tony Gaffney two years after two seasons at Boston University. Over the last four years, UMass is 73-52 including two berths to the NIT Tournament, headlined by last year's NIT Championship game run.
Luke Bonner has emerged as a force as a senior with career-highs in points and rebounds at 7.2 and 5.4. Bonner has been a major threat from 3-point range making a career-best 31 3-pointers. Bonner has scored in double-figures five times this season. Bonner has already earned his undergraduate and master's degrees at UMass in his time with the Minutemen.
Tony Gaffney is top candidate for the Atlantic 10's Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player of the Year with a major breakout season as a senior. He is averaging a double-double with 11.7 points and 10.3 rebounds. He is third in the NCAA and first in the Atlantic 10 blocks per game with 4.0. He also ranks second in the league in rebounding and steals. 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 112 blocks and 57 steals. Since 1996-97, only five players have reached that combination in a single season. Gaffney has 10 double-doubles this season and 18 games with 10 or more rebounds. His 112 blocks this year is third-most in a season in UMass history.
Chris Lowe is UMass' career assist leader with 668 entering the Rhode Island game. Lowe is fifth in career assists in Atlantic 10 history. Lowe is currently 31st in career scoring at UMass with 1,111 after reaching the 1,000-point plateau against Richmond on Feb. 4. Lowe tied for seventh in the NCAA in assists per game (6.5). In 122 career games, Lowe is averaging a UMass school record 5.5 assists per game. Lowe was named to the UMass 100 Seasons of Basketball All-2000s Team as selected by the media.
The Series With Rhode Island
UMass has won 31 of the last 43 games in the series. That includes sweeps by UMass in 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2008 and URI in 1999, 2003.
UMass has won three of the last four in the series including both of the meetings in 2008. Rhode Island won this season's earlier meeting, 71-59 at the Mullins Center on Feb. 18. The Rams ended the game on a 14-2 run.
Last year, the Minutemen knocked off URI, 78-76 at the Mullins Center on Feb. 7, 2008 which was also Black Out Night. Two weeks later, UMass won at Rhode Island, 98-91 on Feb. 21.
Four of the last seven meetings (all of which have been won by the home team) have been decided by three points or less including last year's early match-up. Nine of the last 11 games have been decided by seven points or less.
If you remove the 2007 22-point UMass win, the averaging margin of victory in the last 11 games is seven points.
Prior to last season, the teams had split their meetings in each of the previous two seasons in 2006 and 2007.
The home team has won six of the last eight games in the series (was six in a row until the last game at URI). That includes two games from 2006 with each team winning at home. UMass beat URI, 63-61 on Feb. 4, 2006 to gain a measure of revenge for the loss to open the season series. Rhode Island won the first game at URI, 58-55 on Jan. 25.
UMass won both games in 2005. The Minutemen won at URI, 49-44, in a defensive struggle on Feb. 9, 2005 and again at the Mullins Center, 70-64, on Feb. 23, 2005 in overtime.
For games played in Kingston, the Rams lead the series 35-26, with six games split (3-3) at the Ryan Center which opened in 2002-03.
UMass has won 17 of the last 22 games played at home in the series. Overall, for games played in Amherst, the Minutemen lead the series 47-20, with a 10-4 mark at the Mullins Center, the third- most wins against any team at the Mullins Center (Temple 13, St. Bonaventure 11).
UMass coach Derek Kellogg faced the Rams for the first time as a head coach earlier this season. As a player at UMass from 1992-95, the Minutemen were 9-1 vs. Rhode Island, losing once in 1993 at Providence. Rhode Island coach Jim Baron stands 13-23 against UMass (7-8 since moving to Kingston in 2002). He was 6-15 while at St. Bonaventure.
The Last Two Meetings
LAST SEASON AT THE RYAN CENTER (FEB. 21, 2008): Senior Etienne Brower's career-high 26 points including a game-clinching 3-pointer with 1:04 left in regulation sewed up a 98-91 win for UMass at the Ryan Center. Brower finished off what amounted to a 5-point play as he had previously made two free throws on a breakaway intentional foul with 1:13 left in the game. That five-point swing gave UMass a 92-86 advantage. The Minutemen (17-9, 6-6 A-10) enhanced their chances of an NCAA Tournament bid by sweeping the Rams on the season, also winning 78-76 at the Mullins Center on Feb. 7. UMass had three players score in double-figures for the third time this season as Gary Forbes added 23 and Chris Lowe netted 21. Lowe had 10 assists for the third game in a row. Rhode Island (20-7, 6-6) has now last four of its last five games, starting with the defeat in Amherst. The Rams were led by Will Daniels who had 25 points.
Thorr Hosts His Alma Mater
Gaffney Among The NCAA Leaders
With 112 blocks and 57 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 47th 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 11 double-doubles this season after none in his career in 81 games entering the season. He also had grabbed at least seven rebounds in 23 of 28 games and at least 10 in 18 of the 28 games. He has double-doubles in four of his last seven 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), 17 points and 10 rebounds at Saint Joseph's (2/22) and 11 points and 10 rebounds on Senior Night vs. George Washington (3/4). Gaffney has 10 or more rebounds in nine of the last 12 games with 10 against GW.
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 112 blocked shots already rank as the third-best single-season in UMass history. Stpehane Lasme holds the top mark with 168 in 2006-07 while Marcus Camby had 128 in 1995-96. Gaffney's 171 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 had 16 points and 19 rebounds along with five blocks. He opened with 16 points and 13 rebounds vs. Arkansas-Monticello (11/11).
Lowe Sets Assists Mark, Nets 1000th
Lowe is tied for seventh in the NCAA in the NCAA with 6.5 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 183 assists this season, Lowe is sixth on the single-season list. Next on the list is Carl Smith with 191 in 1983-84. With his nine assists at La Salle (3/1) he passed 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 fifth in career assists in the Atlantic 10 with his 668. Next on the list is Temple's Pepe Sanchez (689).
Lowe is up to 31st in career scoring at UMass with 1,111. Next on the list are No. 30 Mike Williams (1,122) and No. 29 Gary Forbes (1,128).
Lowe has eight 10-assist games this season and 14 in his career, all in the last two seasons (all in the last 41 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.
He had a career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5/08) - part of the sixth triple-double in UMass history (14 pts, 10 reb). 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 18.4 scoring average and led the team in scoring in 18 of 28 games with 20 or more in 10 games. Harris is 56th 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 204 and fifth in career attempts with 550. 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' 83 made 3-pointers this season is tied for ninth in a single-season with Anthony Anderson in 2003-04. He needs four to move to seventh on the all-time list which would pass him by Lorenzo Sutton and Monty Mack with 86.
On the single-season list of most 3-pointers attempted, Harris' 204 is 10th-most in a season. Anderson took 212 in that 2003-04 season.
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 with a left MCL sprain 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 21 games (18 starts), he is scoring 7.2 points per game along with 5.4 rebounds. He has made 31-of-76 3-point field goals for a team-best 41 percent.
On the defensive end, Bonner has been just amazing at drawing charges. He has taken 26 offensive fouls in just 21 games, more than one a game including a career high four on twice at #10/10 Xavier and vs. Hofstra (12/20). Bonner has 26 of UMass' 36 drawn charges as a team this season.
Over 12 games from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25 -- he made a 3-pointer in each game -- Bonner shot 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).
Gurley Going Great Guns
Gurley has come off the bench for the last five games as Matt Glass and David Gibbs have been inserted into the starting line-up. Gurley has netted 16.7 PPG in the last three games including a season-best 20 points at La Salle (3/1). He also scored 18 points off the pine against Duquesne (2/25). Glass has averaged 8.0 points as a starter this year. Gibbs scored eight in his first start.
Gurley has scored in double-figures 16 times this season most recently with 12 off the bench vs. George Washington (3/4). Gurley's second-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).
UMass Plays 65th-Toughest Sked
The A-10 has three teams playing schedules in the top 65 in difficulty: Temple faces the 42nd-toughest, Xavier plays the 49th-toughest, and UMass is playing the 65th-toughest.
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.
Notes On UMass' Win Over Kansas
UMass won a non-conference game against a ranked team, away from Massachusetts for the first time since it beat Georgetown in the 1996 NCAA Elite Eight on March 23, 1996.
For head coach Derek Kellogg the win was sweet as his Minutemen picked up their first win over a ranked team under his watch in just his ninth game as a head coach. The previous fastest UMass coach to beat a ranked team was Bruiser Flint, who beat then-No. 19 Boston College in his 17th game as the head man on Jan. 18, 1997. Kellogg also gained a win against Kansas, the team which downed Memphis in the 2008 NCAA title game when Kellogg was an assistant for former UMass coach John Calipari.
UMass beat a non-conference ranked team on the road for the first time since win at #21 Louisville on March 2, 1996, 62-59.
UMass beat a non-conference ranked team for the first time since topping UConn, 61-59, on Dec. 9, 2004. Since that game, UMass is 4-7 against ranked teams (1-1 this season, losing at Memphis).
UMass last beat a ranked team at #14 Dayton on the road last season, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008.
The Minutemen have won the last two games against Kansas, winning at the Mullins Center in 1999. All-time Kansas leads the series, 3-2. All five games have been played in different states (New York, California, Kansas, Massachusetts and Missouri).
100th Season Of UMass Basketball
The following players were on hand for the BC game: Don Akerson, Frank Barous, George "Trigger" Burke, John Edgar, Dick Eid, Wray Gunn, Paul Kollios, Ned Larkin, John MacLeod, Condon McDonough, Ed McGrath, George Morin, Alex Norskey, Bill Prevey, Bill Stephens and William Walsh.
The 1960s Celebration was held at the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 3. Here are the players who attended: Jim Babyak, Peter Bernard, Dennis Chapman, Chuck Demers (trainer), Joe DiSarcina, John Dreyer, Robert Eichorn, Ray Ellerbrook, Gary Gasperack, Jim Girotti, Paul Gullicksen, John Lisack, Bob Murphy, Richard Perkins, Ed Rubin (manager), Dick Samuelson, Rich Starsiak, Frank Stewart and Billy Tindall.
The 1970s Celebration at the Temple game honored: Jim Burke, Bob Dempsey, David Dibble, Mark Donoghue, Billy Endicott, Michael Littman (manager), Tom McLaughlin, John Moynihan, Charles Olsen, Bob Powers (manager) Sam Provo, Mike Pyatt, Peter Trow, Rick Vogeley and Ray Witkos. The family of the late John Murphy was also recognized.
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