Opponent: Minnesota Golden Gophers
League: Big-Ten Conference
UMass traveled to the home court of LIU Brooklyn to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a semifinal matchup of the Barclays Center Classic. The #14 ranked Gophers entered the matchup with a 5-0 record including a notable victory against the Providence Friars.
Unfortunately for the Minutemen, Minnesota dominated from the get go and never trailed in a controlling performance. UMass was unable to overcome another slow start and found themselves in a nineteen point hole going into the half (40-21).
Both teams struggled from the field but UMass could simply not put together any offensive consistency as they recorded their worst shooting performance of the year (32.3%). This could be accredited to Minnesota’s reputation as one of the most efficient defensive teams in the entire country and they certainly lived up to the billing. The length of their guards on the perimeter as well as renowned shot blocker Reggie Lynch caused problems all day long. Lynch had two blocks for the game, but altered looks consistently. A year ago, he finished second in all of college basketball with 3.47 blocks per and leads the country in the statistic so far this season. Adding to their shooting woes, the Minutemen struggled from three point land (5-25), an area they had to improve upon if they hoped to stay close with the Gophers and pull off the upset. With shots not falling, UMass should have focused on aggressive drives to the basket in order to challenge defenders at the rim and draw fouls. Instead, the Minutemen remained timid and only attempted six free throws on the day.
Luwane Pipkins paced UMass once again with eighteen points, but even he shot a dismal one for seven from three. Chris Baldwin continued his consistent play as he added eight points and ten rebounds. Despite the defeat It was a valuable learning experience for a young Minutemen team. One positive takeaway was that they outscored the opposition 30-29 in the second half, but the deficit was far too great in the end. Ultimately, they were outmuscled and outclassed by a mature Minnesota team who returned nearly the entirety of their team that earned a #5 seed in last years NCAA Tournament. In fact, All starters scored eight points or more for the Gophers as they were led by Jordan Murphy who recorded sixteen points and eleven rebounds.
Final Score: 69-51
Team Stats: UMass Minnesota
Field goals: 21-65 (32.3%) 27-63 (42.9%)
3 Point Field Goals: 5-25 (20%) 7-17 (41.2%)
Free Throws: 4-6 (66.7%) 8-13 (61.5%)
Rebounds: 37 46
Assists: 8 14
Turnovers: 15 16