UMass basketball: Matt Cross leads balanced Minutemen past Saint Louis for first A-10 road wi

UMass forward Matt Cross (33) dunks earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

UMass forward Matt Cross (33) dunks earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Reports

Published: 01-30-2024 10:15 AM

Matt Cross led four players in double figures, scoring 19 points to propel the UMass men’s basketball team to an 84-73 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over Saint Louis on Saturday night at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Mo.

The Minutemen won on the road in conference for the first time this season, improving to 13-7 overall, 4-4 in the league. Saint Louis fell to 8-12, 1-6 under former UMass coach Travis Ford.

“He’s our backbone,” UMass head coach Frank Martin said of Cross “He’s the guy that gives us courage. He’s the guy that everyone on this team leans on him in those difficult moments. And he’s playing really good basketball.”

Rahsool Diggins followed with 15 points for the Minutemen, while Keon Thompson scored 14 points and Jaylen Curry added 11. Daniel Hankins-Sanford went for eight points and 10 rebounds, while Josh Cohen added eight points on just 2-for-4 shooting.

UMass held a 38-29 edge in rebounding on the night, and shot 19-for-23 from the free throw line (83 percent). 

UMass led 41-36 at halftime, and extended the lead to 64-53 with 10:16 left after a dunk by Thompson.

The Billikens rallied, cutting the deficit to 66-63 when Gibson Jimerson drilled a 3-pointer with 6:10 to play.

Cross and Jayden Ndjigue answered with back-to-back hoops for the Minutemen, and the visitors never saw their lead down to one possession the rest of the way. A Diggins layup with 1:02 to play put things out of reach via a 78-71 advantage.

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UMass closed things out going 6-for-6 from the line in the final minute.

Jimerson led the Billikins with 16 points, while Larry Hughes II went for 14 points on the night.

Next up for UMass is a home game against George Mason (15-5, 4-3) on Saturday at noon. The Minutemen are up to No 92 in KenPom.