Opponent: George Mason Patriots
League: Atlantic 10 Conference
In what could be described as a very ugly game, it was not surprising to see UMass get off to an extremely slow start. George Mason raced out to a quick advantage in the first four minutes before Malik Hines broke the drought to get the Minutemen on the board. UMass fought back to make it 8-7 after one of the three triples Carl Pierre nailed in the first half. Still, that’s the closest UMass would get in the first as the Patriots responded with a 10-2 run of their own for their biggest lead of the half (18-9). The Minutemen stayed resilient, slowly creeping back and keeping it a ballgame. On the flip side, George mason remained sturdy in their protection of the the lead, springing it back to nine after an Otis Livingston layup with just under seven minutes remaining in the opening period. UMass would close the half on a six to zero run and only trail by two (36-34) going into the break.
The Minutemen came out strong in the second as Holloway tied the game with two free throws which was followed by a Malik Hines Dunk on the following offensive possession to give UMass their first lead of the night. Both of the bigs had impact performances once again as they contributed a combined twenty-two points and nineteen rebounds. With the Minutemen seizing the lead, it was George Mason’s turn for a response and they combated with the largest run of the contest, an 18-4 explosion to steal all momentum and secure their largest lead of the game. At this point, it seemed as if the Minutemen were out of gas, but they dug in on the defensive end and chipped away at the lead, similar to the first. Trailing 60-54 with seven minutes left, they made a quick seven to nothing spurt, capped by a C.J. Anderson jumper to re take the lead at 61-60. Anderson struggled mightily from the floor all night (2-14), but remained aggressive in getting to the line. Livingston had an opportunity to win the game in the final possession but the ball bounced off the rim and into Pipkins’ hands, whose wild heave was subsequently blocked. The contest was headed to overtime.
The first three minutes of overtime looked evenly matched but the Minutemen defense could not stop Livingston, who converted a huge and one with thirty seconds lead to give the Patriots a four point lead. Pipkins and Anderson recorded turnovers on the next two possessions. forcing the Minutemen to foul. Livingston nailed four free throws ,remaining perfect from the line (11-11), to ice the game
Final Score: 80-72
To simply summarize, George Mason’s small guard took over the game as he managed to record a career high thirty-three points and nine assists thanks to his quickness and shot making abilities. UMass did not have the scoring punch to match him or his counterpart Jaire Grayer who added twenty points of his own. Luwanne Pipkins recorded a team high fifteen points, but if he had been more efficient from the field (1-7 from three), it may have been a different story. On top of this, both teams shot horribly from the field at around thirty eight percent and struggled equally from three point land. Yet, George Mason did the little things to pull out the victory as they were superior on the glass with eighteen offensive rebounds and out-rebounded UMass by ten in total (49-39). Additionally, they were more clutch from the charity stripe as they hit five more free throws in the same number of attempts. The X factor for the Patriots was Greg Calixte who went far beyond his bench role and chipped in a vital eight points and twelve rebounds.
The loss is the third in four games for the Minutemen and drops them to 0-2 in conference play and under .500. The next game is Saturday, January 6th at 12:00 P.M at the Dayton Flyers.
Team Stats: UMass George Mason
Field Goals: 26-68 (38.2%) 27-71 (38.0%)
3 Point Field Goals: 5-27 (18.5%) 6-23 (26.1%)
Free Throws: 15-22 (68.2%) 20-22 (90.9%)
Rebounds: 39 (12) 49 (18)
Assists: 14 15
Turnovers: 12 14