Opponent: Holy Cross Crusaders
League: Patriot League
Get used to it, the Minutemen are an inexperienced team and, in effect, are going to struggle out of the gates in many games until they become a more cohesive unit. Nevertheless, as the game progressed, there were many positive takeaways, especially in the second half that showed growth from individual players as well as the team all together.
For much of the first, the teams traded baskets as the Minutemen failed to establish their height advantage inside due to a stingy 2-3 zone. With a lack of players who can create their own shot, UMass relied on Luwane Pipkins (13 Points) to carry them early while others struggled to find the range. Finally, Ray Miller got his name in the score sheet with a pair of threes to give the Minutemen their first lead of the game with about six and a half minutes left in the half. Yet, Holy Cross fought back and a Jehyve Flood layup gave them the lead back at 29-28. Flood was the most consistent player for the Crusaders as he finished with a team-high twelve points. The Minutemen responded with a Pierre three pointer off a a long offensive rebound by Pipkins and added a few free throws to go into the break with a 34-31 advantage
The second half was a completely different story as the Minutemen put together their
best defensive stretch of the season. In fact, Holy Cross was only able to scrap together nine points in the first sixteen minutes of the period and nineteen total. The leader in the first was Pipkins, but the star of the second was undoubtedly Malik Hines (10 Points, 9 Rebounds). Hines was extremely active on the offensive glass and was rewarded for running the floor with three alley oops. Thanks to second chance points, the Minutemen opened up a 40-31 advantage and never looked back. Although UMass committed a number of careless turnovers, they made up for it with their defensive play as they forced four shot clock violations in the game. With the Crusaders struggling to make shots, the Minutemen capitalized with a deadly eleven to nothing run to finish them off. Stretching from the eleven minute mark to just under the seven minutes remaining, the burst primarily featured Carl Pierre who hit a three pointer and converted a tough and one to stretch the lead to 54-38, the largest of the game. Still the exclamation point did not come until the two minute mark when Unique McLean (11 Points) caught the defense napping on an inbounds pass and rose up for a two handed jam, plus the foul, sending Mullins into a frenzy. The game concluded with a final score of 64-60 and it is safe to say, the Minutemen are happy to be home.
Ball Movement and Consistency were the keys tonight as four players finished in double figures for scoring and two others narrowly missed the mark. Finally, The team found its way to the free-throw line and and converted (20-22) when they got there, led by Pipkins (6-6) and C.J Anderson (7-8). Anderson continued to stuff the stat sheet as he contributed ten points, five assists and a vital nine rebounds for the game. The Minutemen did not shoot a great percentage from the floor, but when you play as well defensively as they did, it is far easier to find ways to win when shots are not falling. The home stretch continues this Saturday, December 9th, at 3:00 P.M against the Providence Friars.
Final Score 64-50
Team Stats: UMass Holy Cross
Field Goals: 18-46 (39.1%) 18-50 (36%)
3 Point Field Goals: 8-24 (33.3%) 5-21 (23.8%)
Free Throws: 20-22 (90.9%) 9-11 (81.8%)
Rebounds: 27 (9 Offensive) 25 (5 offensive)
Assists: 17 13
Turnovers: 12 10