Opponent: Niagara Purple Eagles
League: Mid Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC)
UMass opened up the Barclays Center Classic on Sunday with a dominating performance over the Niagara Purple Eagles of the MAAC. Niagara came into this game with a 1-1 record including an impressive win versus Atlantic 10 foe St. Bonaventure. Their one loss came against a nationally ranked Minnesota team in a game in which they hung around until the middle of the second half thanks to strong backcourt play from Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott.
Today, the Minutemen started off slow as Niagara opened up with two quick baskets and a 4-0 lead. Luckily, Senior forward C.J. Anderson steadied the tide with a couple of layups of his own and an array of Carl Pierre three pointers sparked a 13-2 run to put the Minutemen firmly ahead. With around ten minutes left in the first half, UMass was plagued by a stretch of live ball turnovers that led to easy baskets in transition for the opposition. This 6-0 spurt for Niagara cut the deficit to five and was the closest they would get for the remainder of the game. After a powerful slam by Rashaan Holloway destroyed all momentum for the Purple Eagles, the Minutemen Cruised. Luwanne Pipkins, the star guard for UMass, scored his first basket with 7:57 remaining in the first half to stretch the lead to double digits at 26-16. Pipkins started off the game slow, but would catch fire soon enough. His partner in crime, Anderson, followed the three pointer with a second chance tap in and finished the game with a very complete stat-line of nine points, eight assists and four rebounds. At the three minute mark in the first half, Pipkins rattled off eight straight points including a three pointer to halt yet another Niagara run. Ultimately, UMass would finish the half on an 9-0 run of their own and go into the locker room up 46-28 at the break.
UMass picked up where they left off and Pipkins opened the second half with a driving layup to give the Minutemen their first twenty point lead of a game. With seventeen minutes remaining there was sequence in which Umass grabbed three offensive rebounds leading to a Holloway put back layup. This truly exemplified the advantage they had on the glass all day. In fact, The Minutemen outrebounded the Purple Eagles forty-one to twenty with six more on the offensive end. The forwards Malik Hines, Chris Baldwin and Rashaan Holloway all did a great job boxing out and combined for sixteen rebounds collectively. Pipkins continued to light it up as he nailed two more three pointers with sixteen minutes left on the clock to give the Minutemen a 56-33 a lead and cap off a stretch in which he scored sixteen out of twenty-two of the team’s points. The Bigs continued to produce with buckets on the block and sharpshooters Carl Pierre and Rayshawn Miller kept hitting shots. The two guard’s finished a combined seven for twelve from three point land and both recorded career high marks in scoring with sixteen and fourteen points respectively. Thanks to the likes of Pierre and others, bench production was extremely integral for the Minutemen today as they outscored the opposition twenty-eight to fourteen. With seven minutes remaining, Unique McLean tracked down a Niagara guard for a explosive block, sending the arena into a frenzy. McLean’s athleticism was on full display all day as he soared for rebounds, leading the team with seven. The Minutemen continued to lead by twenty plus for the remainder of the game which allowed the opportunity for Khalea Turner-Morris, Jaylen Franklin and Mike Gillespie to see the floor for their first appearances. Morris converted an and-one layup with a little over a minute left for his first career basket. In the end, UMass reached the century mark and prevailed 101-75.
Niagara put up a fight for a while, but their steady guard play was not enough to overcome the physicality and strong shooting of the Minutemen this afternoon. Former USC transfer Khalil Dukes finished with sixteen on the day and Matt Scott finished with twenty-six points to lead the Purple Eagles. One issue for the Minuteman was a struggle to get the defense set after made baskets, as well as turning the ball over. Consistently, Niagara was able to quickly inbound the ball and score easy baskets in transition before the Minutemen knew what had even occurred. In Conference play and against better opponents, UMass must be sure to eliminate mistakes such as these. Overall, the Minutemen shot an astounding 59.4% and 15-26 from three point land. In comparison, Niagara went 4-16 from three and only hit 45% of their shots. The star of the game was Luwanne Pipkins who shot 12/18 from the field, 7/10 from deep and recorded a career high 34 points to go alongside 5 assists. The next game is another Barclays Center Classic game against the Western Carolina Catamounts. It is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday at the Mullins Center
Final Score: 101-75
Current Record: 2-1
Team Stats: UMass Niagara
Field Goals: 38-64 (59.4%) 27-60 (45.0%)
3 Point Field Goals: 15-26 (57.7%) 4-16 (25.0%)
Free Throws: 10-13 (76.9%) 18-22 (81.8%)
Rebounds: 40 21
Assists: 22 14
Turnovers: 18 10
Rashawn Holoway Dunk:
Unique McLean Block:
Khalea Turner-Morris First Basket: