UMass basketball: Minutemen stumble late, drop another close game to St. Bonaventure 79-73

UMass guard Rahsool Diggins (3) hits a three-pointer earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

UMass guard Rahsool Diggins (3) hits a three-pointer earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Reports

Published: 02-07-2024 9:48 PM

Trips to Olean, N.Y. have rarely been kind to the UMass men’s basketball team.

Such was the case once again Wednesday night. The Minutemen led for most of their Atlantic 10 game with host St. Bonaventure, but struggled to make plays in crucial moments down the stretch.

The Minutemen were held off the scoreboard for the final 2 minutes, 26 seconds, as the Bonnies closed the game on a 7-0 run to secure a 79-73 victory.

UMass fell to 14-8 overall, 5-5 in the A-10 with the loss while the Bonnies improved to 14-8, 5-5.

Matt Cross hit two free throws with 2:26 to play, giving the Minutemen a 73-72 lead.

Moses Flowers answered for St. Bonaventure with a bucket to make it 74-73.

UMass’ Josh Cohen (4 points on 2-for-8 shooting) missed a layup the next time down the floor, and Keon Thompson later missed a jumper off the window with 50 seconds remaining. Both shots would’ve give the visitors a lead.

Rebounding late once again bit UMass, as Mika Adams-Woods missed a layup with 22.5 seconds remaining, but Chad Venning snagged the offensive rebound and was fouled by Jayden Ndjigue (who fouled out on the play).

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Venning made both free throws for a 76-73 lead, and Cohen’s attempt to draw contact on a 3-pointer in the waning seconds was not whistled by the officials. The Bonnies got the rebound and Venning put home an and-one with 6.2 seconds left. His free throw sealed the deal and a 79-73 win.

Cross led UMass with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Thompson (16 points), Ndjigue (12) and Rahsool Diggins (10) all scored in double figures for the Minutemen.

The Bonnies were led by Charles Pride’s 19 points.

St. Bonaventure opened the game on a 7-0 run, and it appeared as though the Minutemen were in for another house of Olean horrors.

But UMass responded, and despite first-half foul trouble, built a 13-point lead in the opening stanza. The Bonnies cut into the deficit late in the half however, getting within 38-34 at halftime.

It was the sixth loss of the season by six points or less for the Minutemen, which have struggled to close tight games out this season. Next up for UMass is a home game on Sunday against Rhode Island (2 p.m.).