AMHERST >> Derek Kellogg's post-game analysis of Saturday's game against St. Bonaventure was short and to the point.
"They outplayed us," said the University of Massachusetts basketball coach. "They executed better on the offensive end of the floor. We won a few categories that I was hoping we could win, especially the rebounding. But it wasn't good enough.
The Bonnies (11-3, 3-0 in the Atlantic 10) took the lead with just under six minutes left in the first half and never relinquished it in an 88-77 win over the Minutemen (8-7, 1-2).
Donte Clark had a game-high 25 points for UMass, while two other Minutemen had career-best UMass performances. Antwan Space scored 14 points off the bench and Tyler Bergantino had 13 in his first career start. But the Bonnies had five players score in double figures, led by Jaylen Adams' 24.
"Overall, they made better basketball plays when the game got going," said Kellogg. "They're a good team and I thought the kid Adams did a great job of controlling tempo. He was kind of dominating the game"
If you'd have told Kellogg and his staff that the Minutemen would have held St. Bonaventure to one basket in the final six and a half minutes of the game, he might have thought he would be coaching in a barn-burner. But the Bonnies were 8 for 8 from the line down the stretch and when Denzel Gregg broke the UMass press and scored with 2:19 left, the Minutemen were down by 11 and couldn't catch up.
"[UMass was] 15 for 23 from the free throw line, 4 for 22 from the [3-point line], and they go [59 percent from the floor] and 88 percent [from the foul line]," said Kellogg. "That tells it right there."
The Minutemen jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in a hard-fought first half where there were three ties and five lead changes.
C.J. Anderson's basket with 1:16 left in the first half tied the game at 36, the last tie. The Bonnies took the lead for keeps 26 seconds later when Adams converted two free throws, and the Bonaventure guard gave his team a five-point lead when he got a very friendly shooter's bounce on a 3-point shot as the horn sounded.
The Minutemen scored baskets on three of their first four possessions in the second half, while the Bonnies scored on their first five. The visitors hit 3-pointers on three of those possessions as they began to pull away.
St. Bonaventure led by 19 points with seven minutes to play in the game, and while UMass was able to trim the lead, the Minutemen could never get closer than nine points.
"Our guys found a way to win and I'm proud of their effort," said Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt. "Hopefully, we can continue to improve."
Kellogg was asked after the game whether it was a frustrating afternoon. The UMass coach didn't have to think very long about that.
"It was frustrating because this is a game you want to win and hold court at home," he said. "I thought our effort and energy and intensity was a little better at different junctures.
"But as a whole, for 40 minutes, they played better basketball on both ends of the floor."