UMass Boston men’s basketball off to a solid start

UMass Boston students participate in open recreation at the basketball courts within the Clark Athletic Center.

About a month into the 2021-22 season, the UMass Boston Men's Beacon basketball team is off to a solid start. Despite opening the season with a loss, they won three in a row after that, before dropping their most recent game to Brandeis University. Still, overall, not the worst start for the men's squad.

After the entire 2020-21 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UMass Boston was ranked fifth in the Little East Conference coaches' poll heading into the 2021-22 season. Their cross-state rival, UMass Dartmouth, was picked first in the top four, followed by Keene State, Western Connecticut and Rhode Island College, followed by UMass Boston at five. Beacons head coach Jason Harris was undoubtedly looking forward to leading a talented squad for the upcoming slate, led by star players like seniors Charlie and Charles Mitchell, and junior Malik Lorquet. They have aspirations to make the Little East Tournament in 2022.

However, the season did not start the way they had envisioned, as they narrowly lost to Babson in the season opener on the road. Despite Charles Mitchell's strong performance—25 points, 8–13 shooting, nine rebounds—Babson used a 16–7 run in the second half to pull away with the victory. Lorquet had another solid game—12 points, seven rebounds, two blocks—while junior Tommy Burris had eight points and seven rebounds; while sophomore Stephen DiGregorio, in his collegiate debut, had seven points, six rebounds, and a steal.

However, the Beacons were able to shake off the initial disappointment by ripping off three consecutive victories, the first of which would come on Nov. 7 against the United States Coast Guard Academy, a contest also hosted by Babson University. Charles Mitchell once again paced the team in scoring, with 29 points, moving him into ninth in UMass Boston history among all men's basketball players. Well done young man! DiGregorio had another strong performance, grabbing a team-high six rebounds to go along with his 12 points, while Lorquet had seven points and five rebounds.

For their season opener at the Clark Center Gymnasium, the Beacons did not disappoint the home faithful, blowing out Bridgewater State by a score of 79–48. Charles Mitchell again led his squad to victory, scoring 27 points on 26 combined field goal and free throw attempts, moving him into eighth of all-time in school history, passing former player Charles White. Sophomore Bobby Joy was strong off the bench, contributing 13 points in the victory, while DiGregorio pitched in ten. The Beacons were still nursing a slim lead to open the second half, until freshman Malik Brooms nailed a three-pointer to kickstart the UMass Boston offense. From there, the Beacons started firing on all cylinders and never looked back.

The UMass Boston men's team would follow up that resounding victory with another one on the road against Colby-Sawer College in New London, N.H., by a final score of 72–51. DiGregorio set a new career-high in points with 15, while the Beacons shot a cool 50 percent from the floor to blow out the Chargers. Mitchell had 14 points, six assists, four rebounds, and four steals.

However, this winning streak would come to an end with their most recent loss, on Saturday, Nov. 27, against Brandeis University in the first-ever Black Coaches Classic. Despite another above-average performance from Charles Mitchell—17 points, 7-19 FG percent—the Beacons could not overcome the Judges' Tommy Eastman's double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds, falling 63–54.

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