Atlantic 10 Basketball: UMass Sinks Saint Joseph’s in Opening Round

UMass is the first team to advance in the 2017 Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Minutemen will face St. Bonaventure next on Rhody’s side of the bracket.

URI’s opponent in their first game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament became just a tad clearer tonight. Namely, Saint Joseph’s is now off the board after the Hawks fell to UMass earlier this evening in Pittsburgh. The 12-seed Minutemen grabbed a 70-63 win over 13-seed SJU in the first round of the A-10 Tourney, earning the right to play 5-seed St. Bonaventure tomorrow. As for Phil Martelli and the Hawks, their injury-plagued season is now over.

This one wasn’t exactly the prettiest game in the conference this season, which was probably expected. It was a first round match-up between two of the bottom four teams in the Atlantic 10, after all. But Massachusetts was able to hold St. Joe’s in check through much of the first half as they led by seven (31-24) at the break.

The Minutemen ran their lead as high as 19 in the second frame, but Saint Joseph’s came charging back. The Hawks used a 17-2 run to draw as close as four in the final minutes, but they couldn’t complete the comeback. UMass made their free throws down the stretch as they sealed the win in the first of two games in Pittsburgh tonight.

C.J. Anderson led the way for UMass with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Luwane Pipkins added 13 thanks to three threes, while Zach Lewis tallied 12 despite struggling from the field all night. For the Hawks, James Demery led all scorers with 21 points and stud freshman Charlie Brown dropped in 14.

Next up, UMass will face St. Bonaventure tomorrow afternoon for the right to take on Rhode Island. Tip-off from PPG Paints Arena is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.