Most coaches aren't all about moral victories, but John Cooper had to be pretty pleased with his troops after their showing against #23 Massachusetts.
The RedHawks found themselves only down four at halftime, sparked by the outstanding play of Will Felder and Geovonie McKnight. They were playing well and limiting the Minutemen production to just a few players.
UMass scored the first four points of the second half to push the lead to eight, and it stayed right around there until a Maxie Esho three point play got the Minutemen ahead into double digits. Every time UMass threatened to pull away Miami kept fighting back matching the Minutemen basket for basket. A Felder lay-up with 2:53 remaining closed the lead to six and suddenly the RedHawks were back in it. Unfortunately for Miami, the Minutemen went on a quick 5-0 run and basically ended any chance of a comeback.
Felder made his case for MAC Player of the Week after a phenomenal performance of 22 points on 10-12 shooting with seven rebounds. McKnight also played well scoring fifteen points and dishing out seven assists. McKnight also had five rebounds and held his own going up against one of the top point guards in the nation in Chaz Williams.
Joshua Oswald got another start and did a lot with it, scoring twelve points on 6-12 shooting and picked up four rebounds. That was a career high point total for the freshman forward from Australia, and Cooper had to like what he saw out of the young Aussie. Oswald has been thrust into major minutes as defections have decimated this RedHawk team.
UMass was led by Williams who put up his normal eighteen points and eight assists. Esho had a great game with fifteen off of the bench. The Minutemen won this game at the line, as they were 16-23 (70%) while Miami only got to the line six times.
Miami could have folded it in after losing their second-best player to transfer last week. But to their credit, they stuck with it and played well against ranked competition. It may just be UMass out of the Atlantic 10, but when looking at who the Minutemen have beaten it's an impressive result. They've taken out LSU, Nebraska, New Mexico, Clemson, BYU and Providence, and beat both Ohio and Eastern Michigan by twelve (on the road). Let's not say that this Miami team will be players in the MAC East race just yet; they did lose to a Division 3 team this season. But, it shows that the RedHawks will put up a fight and could surprise some teams this season.