Sometimes basketball can be a simple game.
On the road in the heart of the conference schedule, a victory away from home is huge, no matter who you are playing. Well, in a pivotal Atlantic 10 showdown between UMass and Charlotte, one simple aspect of the game proved costly for the Minutemen.
While the 49ers’ resume won’t jump out at anybody, a 66-65 victory over UMass on Saturday afternoon puts Charlotte in a unique position as they continue to push for a berth within the NCAA Tournament. At 17-4 overall and 5-2 in the conference, a win is a win for the 49ers, no matter how they achieved it.
For UMass however, the loss comes as a disappointment after a hard-fought contest on the road simply did not end the way they would have wanted it to.
In a one-point defeat, the Minutemen have nobody to blame, but themselves. A 6-of-16 performance from the free throw line is a head-scratcher and a statistic that ultimately cost UMass the basketball game. Missed free throws are going to happen and so too are games like the one UMass had today, but think about the fact that they missed ten open shots from the charity strike in a game that they lost by only one point.
Terrell Vinson had a monster game, scoring 23 points, while Chaz Williams was doing what he always does on the offensive end, totaling 16 points in his own right. However, UMass’ starters were a combined 5-of-14 from the free throw line. A late strip of Williams on the final possession keyed the victory for the 49ers, but aside from it potentially being a foul, the numbers from the contest don’t lie.
Long story short, it’s a missed opportunity for the Minutemen. A win over Charlotte would have been a huge boost for UMass, especially considering their upset victory at LaSalle earlier this week.
At 14-6 overall and 4-3 within the conference, UMass finds themselves entering a week in which a pair of home games have to be considered must-wins. The Minutemen will play host to Rhode Island and St. Joseph’s next week before a crucial road game at VCU on Feb. 14.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS