Opponent: Quinnipiac Bobcats
League: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
UMass traveled to face the Quinnipiac Bobcats of the MAAC, hoping to halt their two game skid. The Bobcats (1-5) had lost their four previous games after a season opening victory against Dartmouth and were hungry to get back into the win column as well.
Sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins opened the scoring with a three pointer on the Minutemen’s first possession, but would struggle mightily from the field for the second game in a row. To begin, Quinnipiac relied heavily on their leading scorer Chaise Daniels, feeding him consistently in the paint for their first three baskets. Although Daniels was scoring, the activity from the UMass bigs was fantastic early on as both Malik Hines and Chris Baldwin recorded offensive rebounds and converted on second chance opportunities. Umass led 10-8, but foul trouble haunted Baldwin and Rashaan Holloway, sending them to the bench for the majority of the half. Size was the biggest advantage the Minutemen held over the Bobcats but they ceased to find any type of rhythm for the remainder of the period. Additionally, Quinnipiac came out shooting and stretched their lead to nine (27-18) after a couple of three pointers. Without Senior C.J. Anderson, this one might have been all but decided before the break. The Minutemen as a unit failed to establish offensive consistency, but Anderson had it working from all levels, nailing threes and finishing aggressive drives at the rim. With around four minutes remaining, The deficit was cut to two (29-27), but Quinnipiac closed the half on a 9-2 run and went into the break with their largest lead at 38-29.
This was perhaps the most flat the Minutemen have looked in an opening half this season, outside of the Minnesota game. Afterwards, Coach McCall Acknowledged “We wanted no part of the physicality at the beginning of the game. We thought it was going to be easy. It doesn’t work that way at all”. Still, it was evident that the halftime message was received as the Minutemen keyed in on defensive activity to record stops and chip their way back into the game. Now, UMass needed production from other players to help Anderson on the offensive end. Ray Miller rose to the call as he nailed a three pointer to start the half and then scored three straight baskets to cut the lead to six (49-43) with twelve minutes left. Shortly after, Rashaan Holloway bullied Daniel in the post to the tune of six straight points. The highlight of the game came with 5:40 remaining when Miller fed Holloway in the post with a beautiful entry pass. The big man quickly shed his defender for a powerful slam and gave the Minutemen their first lead since it was 10-8. UMass had seized momentum but Quinnipiac remained composed and went on a seven to nothing spurt to take the lead back at 64-58. The Minutmen elected for quick baskets instead of threes, hoping for free throw misses, but the Bobcats were pure from the line and closed out the game for an upset victory, 66-62
UMass was led by C.J. Anderson who finished with a season high 23 points to go along with 6 rebounds. Pipkins failed to find his stroke as he is now a combined three for twenty-five shooting in the past two games. Regardless, the Minutemen outshot their opponent, out-rebounded them and recorded a season low in turnovers, but ultimately came up short. The Bobcats were able to pull of the victory by taking care of the ball and most importantly attempting twenty-two more free throws. Defensively, the Minutemen did a fantastic job containing the Bobcats leading scorers, but Isaiah Washington and the Robinson twins served as X factors, combining for 33 points. The loss marks the third in a row for the Minutemen and the third game they have fallen short by just three points or less this season. Expect a young team to learn from these experiences to pull out a few victories in close games such as the season progresses. The next game is against the South Carolina Gamecocks, December 2nd, at 2:00 P.M in Columbia.
Final Score: 68-66
Team Stats: UMass Quinnipiac
Field Goals: 28-63 (44.4%) 19-51 (37.3%)
3 Point Field Goals: 7-17 (41.2%) 8-21 (38.1%)
Free Throws: 3-5 (60%) 22-27 (81.5%)
Rebounds: 40, 11 Offensive 30, 5 offensive
Assists: 12 11
Turnovers: 11 7
Quote from Daily Hampshire Gazette article http://www.gazettenet.com/McCall-doesn-t-like-UMass-lack-of-toughness-in-loss-14049415 by Matt Vautour.