Brooklyn, NY– The first round of the Atlantic Ten Tournament at the Barclays Center saw all three higher seeds advance. Richmond (12th) rolled over UMass (13th). Saint Joseph’s (10th) outlasted Loyola (15th) and La Salle (11th) eliminated Rhode Island (14th).
Richmond 71 UMass 38
Offensive efficiency: Richmond 101, UMass 54
Richmond led at the half 31-18. UMass did not defend particularly well, allowing a 91 defensive efficiency. Offense? Worse, as the Minutemen rang up a 53 efficiency highlighted by 13 turnovers for an outrageous 38% TO rate.
Richmond’s Tyler Burton had a field day those first twenty minutes. Burton scored 19 points shooting 7 of 11(2-3 from three).
With just over three minutes gone in the final stanza, UMass coach Frank Martin called time out.Turnovers continued to mount and a Burton slam dunk increased the Spider’s lead to 19 and Martin had seen enough.
Richmond would penetrate and pass to a wide open shooter on the perimeter. No rotation or close out by the Minutemen. Under eight to go the Richmond lead was 30 and the UMass staff sat motionless.
Richmond (15-17) advanced with a 71-38 victory. UMass, finishing 15-16, did have an 18-6 offensive rebounding edge. On the flip side, they were guilty of 20 turnovers, a 29% TO rate. The Spiders face George Mason who defeated them twice this season.
“This has been a resilient group all year,” Richmond interim coach Peter Thomas said. “We lost a tough one Saturday to George Mason but we bounced back. Today we executed our game plan at the highest level.”
Tyler Burton finished with a game-high 28 points while RJ Luis led the Minutemen with 12.
Saint Joseph’s 72 Loyola 67
Offensive efficiency: Saint Joseph’s 104, Loyola 97
The first four minutes saw Saint Joseph’s get out to a 9-6 lead. Early on Loyola was having trouble fighting through ball screens and the Hawk shooters took advantage. Lynn Greer III buried three treys in the first eight minutes.
Saint Joseph’s maintained the first half lead. Coach Billy Lange switched defenses to keep Loyola off track. Ramblers, however, stayed the course and hit a three to cut the deficit to two possessions just before halftime.
Branden Norris and Ben Schwieger continued the momentum, hitting three pointers as Drew Valentine’s club evened the score. A 10-3 first four minutes after intermission gave Loyola their first lead. While Loyola had perimeter threats, Philip Alston at 6’6”, was a proven matchup problem for the Hawks.
The Ramblers had their own issues trying to slow down Greer III. The sophomore guard proved to be lethal on the perimeter and taking it to the basket as well. With five minutes to play the Hawks had an eight point lead and looked to close the contest out.
Loyola made the final run. With Saint Joseph’s holding on to a two point lead Greer III made a big play by driving baseline, dishing off to an open Christian Winborne who converted in close. The Hawks went on to ‘survive and advance’.
“We ask our guards to elevate their game in the tradition of great St. Joe’s guards,” coach Billy Lange said after the victory. “Erik Reynolds II picked up a second personal early and others stepped up.”
Philip Alston scored 18 points to lead Loyola. Saint Joseph’s placed four guards in double figures. Greer III led with a game-high 22, Cameron Brown and Winborne had 16 and Reynolds II added 13. “We are all great players,” Brown said. “We may have a bad game but we all believe in ourselves.”
Loyola finished 10-21 while Saint Joseph’s (15-16) moved on to face George Washington.
La Salle 73 Rhode Island 56
Offensive efficiency: La Salle 107, URI 82
From the onset, Rhode Island had its problems. The Rams were down 15 at intermission. For Ram coach Archie Miller it was a combination of (lack of) defense and rebounding, two facets of the game that are basically intertwined. La Salle shot 25% (4-16) from long distance. The damage Fran Dunphy’s club inflicted was inside where the Explorers shot 59% (27-46). On the glass, the Explorers were dominant with a 51-36 rebounding edge.
“(La Salle) physically dominated us for 40 minutes,” Miller lamented. “The rebounding total in itself would have been hard for us to withstand. But our inability to really guard the ball, keep in front. We just had a hard time from the opening jump.”
Malik Martin of Rhode Island (9-22) paced all scorers with 19. The Explorers were led by Jhamir Brickus with 18. La Salle (14-18) came to Brooklyn with a five game losing streak. “It’s a new season, it’s 0-0,” Brickus noted. “We were going to leave it all out there and go hard.” La Salle certainly did and now face Duquesne in the next round.