DAYTON, Ohio - Poor shooting and the lowest scoring output of the season led to a rough visit to University of Dayton Arena last night for the University of Massachusetts.
The Minutemen struggled from the field, shooting just 25 percent as Dayton cruised to a 76-43 Atlantic 10 Conference victory.
The loss is the third for UMass (19-9, 8-6) in its last four games. The 33-point margin of defeat is the largest since Nov. 28, 2009, against Michigan State in a 106-68 loss in the Legends Classic.
UMass was led by redshirt sophomore guard Chaz Williams with 11 points, all of which came in the second half, on 2-for-12 shooting from the field. Redshirt freshman forward Maxie Esho added 10 points.
Senior forward Chris Johnson led Dayton (18-10, 8-6) with 20 points to go with 11 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season. Johnson was one of five Flyers to score double-digit points.
UMass trailed, 40-25, in the second half before a 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by junior guard Freddie Riley, brought the deficit to 6. The Minutemen got no closer, scoring just 9 points over the final 13:40 of the game.
“The thing I’m most disappointed with was we cut it to 6 in the second half,’’ UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I thought we had the tempo going pretty well, and I think we gave them an ‘and-one’ layup and at that point we didn’t play UMass basketball.’’
Williams said a timeout following the UMass run hurt the team.
“That media timeout took us out of our synch and our rhythm,’’ he said. “We just couldn’t find the same groove after the timeout.’’
Leading, 8-6, in the first half, Dayton senior forward Luke Fabrizius hit three consecutive 3-pointers to give Dayton a 17-6 advantage. The Minutemen entered the game as one of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 in 3-point defense this season, but gave up six first-half threes and 10 for the game.
Dayton held a 28-18 halftime lead behind 10 first-half points from Johnson. Williams, the Minutemen’s leading scorer, picked up two early fouls and was held scoreless in the half. Esho, the reigning A-10 rookie of the week, led the Minutemen with 8 first-half points.
Williams said being held scoreless played a part in the team’s and his own struggles.
“I’ve just got to get my head back into the game,’’ he said. “That was kind of tough also, being limited in the first half because of the fouls and then trying to come out and play full [speed] in the second half. It was hard for me to get going late and I was just trying to find my teammates towards the end.’’
Esho said that although his team did not play the type of game it wanted, mistakes are what did it in.
“It was nothing they did. It was all our mistakes,’’ he said. “We beat ourselves. That’s just not UMass basketball. That’s not the way Coach teaches us to play.’’
Late in the second half and trailing, 62-43, UMass’ Javorn Farrell picked up a technical foul after an altercation with Dayton’s Matt Kavanaugh.
UMass entered the game in a tie for third in the A-10 standings, but fell into a tie for sixth with Dayton.
Dayton coach Archie Miller said his team scouted the Minutemen well and was taken aback by the energy level UMass brings.
“We gave UMass a lot of respect coming in here,’’ Miller said. “We took a very, very hard approach in practices leading up to [the game] and I think our kids really wanted it.’’
Dayton encouraged its fans to wear red to the game and Kellogg said he thought the atmosphere played a large role in the outcome.
“I thought the atmosphere really startled our guys to a certain extent,’’ he said. “They won the basketball game tonight, and it wasn’t a good night for UMass basketball.’’
UMass next faces No. 22 Temple, the A-10’s regular-season champion, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Philadelphia.