Freshman’s career afternoon helps UMass beat Rhode Island for seventh straight time (VIDEO)

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After committing his fourth foul of the game, UMass forward Maxie Esho (18 points, six rebounds) made his way to the bench with freshman Zach Coleman being inserted into the lineup by head coach Derek Kellogg. The loss of Esho could have been an issue for the Minutemen, but thanks to the efforts of Coleman they were able to pick up the 60-56 win at the Mullins Center.

Coleman scored 11 points in a stretch that lasted just over seven minutes, with Esho returning to the game with 1:53 remaining, and he finished the afternoon with 13 points. That represents a career high for Coleman, who prior to Saturday had scored in double figures just once in his UMass career and was averaging 2.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

Rhode Island had an opportunity to tie the game at 59, but E.C. Matthews lost control of the ball before he could attempt a three-pointer. Trey Davis made one free throw on the other end, thus sealing the win for UMass. Hassan Martin scored 13 points and Matthews added 11 for URI, which has now lost two straight after dropping a close one to VCU on Wednesday.

The win was a much-needed one for the Minutemen, who are now tied with Rhode Island (3-2) in the Atlantic 10 standings with Dayton and VCU leading with way at 5-0. UMass has now won the last seven meetings in the series, with each of the last four being decided by five points or less.

Report: UMass forward Maxie Esho out with a concussion

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Things are not going well for UMass.

The Minutemen have lost three of their last four games, a stretch that was precipitated by weeks worth of basketball where Derek Kellogg’s club failed to put together the kind of impressive wins you would expect from a top 25 team.

UMass has another tough game tonight, as they will get a visit from La Salle. A loss will drop them to .500 in league play and potentially four games behind first place Saint Louis.

It won’t help matters that Maxie Esho, a reserve forward off the bench averaging 8.3 points and 5.0 boards, will be out of the game with a concussion, according to a report from Jon Rothstein of

Esho suffered the injury in a loss to St. Joseph’s on Saturday.