The road has not been kind to Massachusetts and star guard Chaz Williams.
The 21st-ranked Minutemen conclude a two-game swing away from home Saturday night against Saint Joseph’s, and they’ll look to avoid a third straight road defeat in a place they’ve had trouble securing wins.
UMass (17-3, 4-2 Atlantic 10) has dropped two of three and is in danger of falling out of the Top 25. Those defeats had a couple of things in common, as both were on the road and Williams struggled to shoot the ball.
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Williams, averaging a team-best 15.7 points and conference-high 7.3 assists, scored eight on 2-of-11 shooting in a 58-55 loss in Richmond on Jan. 22. On Wednesday night at St. Bonaventure, the senior shot 3 for 10 and had 11 points in a 78-65 defeat. He committed four turnovers in each loss.
”They did a good job on him,” coach Derek Kellogg said Wednesday. ”He did get a little frustrated. We just kind of have to play through those bumps and grinds when we get in there.”
Williams lost his focus on consecutive possessions eight minutes into the second half, losing the ball twice while attempting to drive the lane. The second time, he had the headband stripped off his head.
While Williams was busy complaining to the officials, the Bonnies went down and scored on a fast-break dunk to go up 45-38 with 12:35 remaining.
After getting upset following a UMass turnover, Williams picked up his fourth foul and spent the next six minutes on the bench with a towel over his head. He fouled out with 1:39 remaining for the Minutemen, who were led by sophomore guard Trey Davis’ career-best 18 points.
”Trey stepped up and did what he was supposed to do,” center Cady Lalanne said. ”But not having Chaz out there kind of affected us a little bit.”
Kellogg, though, refused to let Williams shoulder the blame.
”We’ve got to just saddle up and play a little better,” Kellogg said. ”I think everybody can see we’re not playing as well as we could be. But we’re going to right the ship.”
Williams had a solid game in the first meeting this season against Saint Joseph’s (14-6, 4-2), scoring 22 in a 66-62 home win Jan. 8. The Minutemen, though, have lost eight of 11 on the road in this series since 2000-01.
The Hawks have won 10 of their last 12 games, including six in a row at home. They bounced back from last Saturday’s 77-62 loss at Richmond with a 60-57 win in Dayton on Wednesday as senior guard Langston Galloway banked in a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds to play.
"During the huddle, everybody was confident in me, telling me go take the last shot, be confident," said Galloway, who’s fourth in the A-10 with 17.2 points per game. "… It’s definitely big. I’ve hit game-winners in high school but this is definitely big being in college."
Senior forward Halil Kanacevic led the Hawks with 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the first meeting, while Galloway scored 18.