Blaming the Cougars’ performance on travel could have been a decent idea for BYU fans if their team hadn’t lost every game against ranked opponents this season. No. 21 UMass perpetuated BYU’s losing streak on Saturday, Dec. 7, during the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase held at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
“It’s going to be really hard to come on the road and beat a team when you let them shoot 55 percent from the field and score over 100 points,” said BYU head coach Dave Rose.
The Massachusetts Minutemen proved they were a tough team with a 105-96 victory over BYU. Chaz Williams had career highs of 32 points and 15 assists, and Sampson Carter scored 20 points for the Minutemen to lead them to their eighth victory and an undefeated 8-0 record. Massachusetts is off to its longest winning streak since 1998.
“I think that this team caused us the most problems in our zone,” Rose said. “They could spread us out because of their shooters. The way they shot the ball tonight, it’s tough because they don’t shoot as well on paper as they did today. This group, the way they played tonight caused us a lot of problems.”
Even with Tyler Haws, the leading scorer in the WCC, BYU was unable to keep up with a fired-up UMass team. Haws had 25 points and three rebounds, with teammate Matt Carlino adding a supplementary 23 points, six assists and three rebounds. Eric Mika gained 18 points and 8 rebounds for the Cougars, with Kyle Collinsworth and Frank Bartley both adding 14 points.
“Our guys played their hearts out,” Rose said. “They played hard. We got into a tough spot early. We just had a hard time controlling their penetration, and that was a huge part of what we had to do. We got in foul trouble early, and it made us soft and they took advantage of it.”
Three technical fouls were handed out halfway through the first after a minor brawl made way when Putney and Haws got tangled up on the floor. Haws and Mika drew technicals for BYU and Williams for UMass.
At the end of the first half the Cougars were down 41-52. The Minutemen led by as many as 13 points in the first half before the Cougars came back to cut their lead to 52-49 two minutes into the second.
During the second half UMass went on a 10-2 run, getting all 10 points in the paint. UMass extended the lead to 15 points when Williams hit another 3-pointer with 7 minutes to play. Later, Williams made another shot from the perimeter to push UMass to a 90-73 lead with 5:26 left. The Cougars cut the deficit but never got closer than nine points.
“I think all of them played well, but we just need to finish them better,” Mika said. “This game we played better in the second half and got off to a slow start defensively. We just need to figure that out quicker and we can play with anybody.”
The Cougars return to the Marriott Center to take on Prairie View A&M on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be televised live on BYUtv and broadcast on the Cougar IMG Sports Network on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM.