Wednesday night in the A-10 featured two upsets, with Dayton falling to UMass on the road and Davidson losing to Fordham at home.
Here are three takeaways from a “surprising” night.
Alarm bells shouldn’t be ringing in Dayton
The Flyers’ loss in Amherst — their sixth-straight defeat at a UMass home venue — wasn’t pretty. It was their worst offensive performance of the season, as they posted a 36.8 effective field goal percentage (the previous worst was 40.4 against Saint Mary’s) and committed a season-high 19 turnovers.
But let’s keep this loss in perspective.
Charles Cooke was not good (nine points, 3-11 FG, seven turnovers), but he was battling a wrist injury before the back injury that kept him out the past two games. Some rust was inevitable. More importantly, the Minutemen were not the pushovers their 0-3 league start might suggest.
UMass has defended well all season, with the best effective field goal percentage defense in the A-10. And there’s a growth factor with this team that can’t be ignored. The Minutemen are young, and will not be the same team in March that they are now.
To that point, sophomore Rashaan Holloway continued to emerge as a defense-scrambling post threat (14 points, 6-10 FG). Freshman Luwane Pipkins was great again (17 points) and UMass’ x-factor, talented freshman Dejon Jarreau, broke out of a slump.
“I thought he had a good stretch there,” Derek Kellogg told the Daily New Hampshire Gazette. “That was about as good a stretch as he’s put together against a really good team. His blocks and defensive rebounds were as key to our success as his offensive games.”
UMass likely won’t explode from this as a new team. There will still be inconsistency, especially on the offensive end. But the Minutemen can beat anyone in this league, even the frontrunners.
Alarm bells should be ringing at Davidson
Davidson (8-7) finally has a bad loss after falling at home to Fordham. Bob McKillop talked about one of the culprits with the Charlotte Observer after the game.
“Our biggest obstacle this year seems to be our inability to defend the 3-point line. Tonight was a classic example of it.”
It has been quite the obstacle in A-10 play. The Wildcats have allowed opponents to shoot a blistering 50 percent from deep over their four conference games. This was at least somewhat understandable with opening games against Richmond and GW.
It’s not as easy to shrug off against Fordham. The Rams came into the game shooting 32.4 percent from a distance as a team, but hit 9-of-21 three’s in the big road win.
And it was a big win for Fordham. The Rams, unlike last year, did not take advantage of a weak non-con schedule, and came into Wednesday’s game having lost nine of their last 10 games.
Davidson withstood a dismal shooting effort in the first half to take a two-point lead on a Jack Gibbs jumper with under nine minutes left. Facing a star like Gibbs, it seemed natural for a team on Fordham’s trajectory to fold. But the Rams didn’t, in large part because of good defense and Joseph Chartouny.
Richmond takes advantage of a break
Sometimes it’s when you play an opponent that matters most. The Spiders got a giant break with Jaylen Adams sidelined Wednesday night with a sprained ankle.
Good teams, which Richmond has very much looked like lately, pounce, and the Spiders did just that. They held the hampered SBU offense to just 0.88 points per possession, and kept Matt Mobley under his season average (17 points, 6-17 FG).
And ho-hum, De’Monte Buckingham was good again (18 points). Fellow freshman guard Nick Sherod got into the action too, with a career-high 17 points.
Yes, Richmond’s 4-0 start has a slight asterisk next to it, but the Spiders continue to ride a wave of momentum.