After scoring 100 points in Thursday’s Atlantic 10 Tournament second-round win over Saint Joseph’s, UMass couldn’t carry the momentum into Friday’s quarterfinal matchup against Saint Louis.
The fifth-seeded Minutemen fell behind by 17 points in the first half, and a second-half comeback fueled by star sophomore Tre Mitchell came up short in an 86-72 loss to the Billikens at the Robins Center in Richmond, Va.
Saint Louis (14-5), under the direction of former UMass coach Travis Ford, advances Saturday’s to semifinals against top-seeded Saint Bonaventure.
Mitchell poured in a game-high 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting for UMass, which ends a season that featured eight games postponed or cancelled to coronavirus concerns at 8-7.
Javonte Perkins scored 25 points and Jordan Goodwin added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Billikens.
“Give Saint Louis credit, they were a Top 25 team at one point this year for a season and I don’t see how they aren’t an NCAA Tournament team,” said UMass coach Matt McCall.
“I thought we were a little slow in the first half. I just thought Saint Louis woke up today like we woke up yesterday. We were a little shell-shocked for the first 10 minutes. We played a toe-to-toe game outside of that and had our chances, but we just couldn’t get the stops we needed too.”
Saint Louis jumped out to a 15-3 lead behind 10 points from Goodwin, then padded the margin to 30-13 following a 10-0 run midway through the first half.
UMass spent the second frame chipping away at a 13-point halftime deficit. Mitchell canned a pair of 3-pointers and senior Carl Pierre followed with a triple to cut the deficit to 67-59 with 8:39 left.
But each time the Minuteman made a run, Saint Louis responded. Mitchell said the rebounding disparity — 45-22 in favor of the Billikens —was the difference in the outcome.
“Granted they got a lot big bodies but we were just watching the ball go through the air,” said Mitchell. “Rebounding 100 percent. They were getting two, three, four chances on the offensive glass and you’re not going to win a basketball that way.”
Pierre, a BC High grad from Randolph, scored 8 points, completing his senior season with averages of 13 points and 4 rebounds per game. Because of NCAA rules pertaining to the coronavirus, Pierre will have one more year of eligibility remaining if he choses.
“Whatever’s best for Carl and his family is what’s next,” said McCall.
“He’s put his heart and soul into this program for four years and if what’s best for him to move on with his life then we support him 100 percent. Carl’s been with me since day one and embodies everything UMass basketball is about. He’s never late, walking away here with two degrees. He’s the ultimate culture guy.”