Central Conn. 92, UMass 63

It’s a horror show for UMass

Numbers tell all the gory details

By Marty Dobrow
Globe Correspondent / January 4, 2011

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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — The final nonconference game of the season was supposed to get the University of Massachusetts geared up for Atlantic 10 play.

But if last night is any indication, the Minutemen are not ready to compete in any league, not even the League of Women Voters. UMass was utterly outclassed from start to finish in a 92-63 loss to Central Connecticut State of the Northeast Conference.

“That was a thorough dismantling by a team that just took it to us with their toughness,’’ said UMass coach Derek Kellogg.

The last time UMass played at Central Connecticut was in 1950. That was the program’s first postseason game and it didn’t end well, a 68-47 loss in the NAIA Tournament.

One could easily see why UMass stayed away, as the 8-5 Blue Devils overwhelmed the 8-5 Minutemen in every statistical category. They shot 56.4 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from behind the arc (UMass was 41.4 percent and 17.6 percent). A team with no player taller than 6 feet 6 inches outrebounded UMass, 35-28. And most humiliating for the Minutemen was the disastrous ratio of 22 turnovers and just two assists.

“I thought we were taking steps in the right direction [in recent games],’’ said senior Anthony Gurley, who led the Minutemen with 18 points. “Unfortunately, we took about 10 steps back tonight.’’

On the other side, Blue Devils coach Howie Dickenman was elated. “I’m not sure how much better we can play,’’ he said. “We want to create havoc and make the visiting team miserable, and I thought we did a pretty good job of doing that.’’

Central Connecticut was led by Robby Ptacek, who scored 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Shemik Thompson (8 of 11) and Ken Horton (8 of 13) added 24 apiece.

UMass looked ready to play on the opening possession when Sean Carter soared high for a Sampson Carter miss and threw down a dunk. But that lead lasted all of five seconds as Ptacek hit a 3-pointer on the other end, and the ambush was on. The Blue Devils led, 33-9, not even nine minutes into the game. At the half it was 49-31. Central Connecticut increased the lead to as many as 31.

The Minutemen knew they had a challenge on their hands coming into the game. The Blue Devils had lost by just 2 at Dayton, one of the top teams in the A-10. The Blue Devils had won three in a row, and they were 4-0 at Detrick Gym.

But in fairness, they were not the Duke Blue Devils. They had lost by 16 to Penn State and 35 to Providence.

By any measure, this was a disastrous night for UMass, despite another strong effort by Gurley and a breakout game for freshman Raphiael Putney (14 points). The Minutemen had better hope it was an aberration rather than a sign of things to come. A-10 play begins Sunday with Dayton coming to town.