Opponent: Dayton Flyers
League: Atlantic 10 Conference
The ball quickly bounced into the backcourt, a brutal deflection off the Dayton defender put Luwanne Pipkins in a awkward situation. He collected the ball with two seconds remaining on the shot clock, took two dribbles, and threw up a running prayer.
The first eight minutes of the game were extremely even with neither team able to set the tone leaidng Umass to emerge with a one point lead (16-15) led by Malik Hines (14 points, 6 rebounds) and Pipkins. Speaking of Luwane, him and Carl Pierre caught fire early and helped the Minutemen create some separation with back to back three pointers to stretch the lead to nine (24-15). In fact, the Minutemen hit eight threes in the first half with five of their last six makes from behind the line. UMass’ largest lead in first half was 32-21, but Dayton responded with a small run to close close half. Carl Pierre responded with another three pointer with just under a minute remaining in the first to return the lead back to nine, but Josh Cunningham (27 points, 11 rebounds) brought it back to seven with a layup. The Minutemen went into the locker room with a 35-28 lead.
Carl Pierre (15 Points, 4-8 3P FG) got the scoring going in the second with a three pointer on first possession of the half to stretch lead back to double digits. Just before the first media timeout, C.J. Anderson nailed a three pointer to keep the lead at ten (49-39). Anderson followed up his great game against URI with a similar confidence on the offensive end, pouring in seventeen points along with seven rebounds and assists. The Minutemen looked poised to hold the advantage, but in the blink of an eye, Dayton capped a 10-0 run over a three minute span to tie the game. Then, with 11:26 left in the contest, the Flyers took the lead for the first time since it was 8-7 on a Jalen Crutcher (15 points) layup. The teams went back and forth and UMass eventually regained the lead (66-64) with just under four minutes left in the contest. A few possessions later, C.J Anderson converted a tough and one to put the Minutemen back up two, but the team did not sprint back on defense and Josh Cunningham made them pay with a quick dunk on the other end. With the game tied, UMass came up huge on the defensive end but Luwane Pipkins slowly brought the ball up and was called for a ten second violation, a lazy turnover that looked to be costly. Fortunately Crutcher’s game winning attempt fell short and the game was headed to overtime
The Minutemen controlled the first overtime period, but failed to extend the lead past four, leaving the door open for the resilient Flyers. With forty seconds remaining in a tied game yet again, Unique McLean soared for a beautifully drawn up in inbounds alley-oop and slammed it down powerfully with two hands. Now, All the Minutemen needed was a defensive stop but Josh Cunningham drew a foul and calmly knocked down the two free throws to tie the game at 77. This time, it was the Minutemen with the final possession, but Pipkins’ isolation step-back three pointer at the buzzer was far long.
Yet again, the Minutemen jumped ahead by four in the second period of extra time on a strong driving lefty layup by Ray Miller. Still, Dayton fought back to tie it. With just under a minute remaining, Pipkins controlled the ball at the top of the key when it was kicked by the defensive player. Luwane retrieved the rock, took two dribbles in hope of evading his trailing defender and let a forty foot heave go as the shot clock expired. The line drive shot bounced off the back board and through the net as the Mullins Center exploded in shock. The play was reviewed extensively but the call stood and the Minutemen were up three. After a key miss at the free throw line by Cunningham, Unique McLean, who was massive on the glass once again (11 rebounds), iced the contest with a twelve foot jumper to secure the victory.
The five game losing Streak is over and the brooms are out as UMass swept the season series with Dayton in the win. Both teams relied on their starters heavily with very little bench production and UMass did a great job in avoiding fouling out in the overtime’s. As stated earlier, the three point shot was a huge weapon for the Minutemen tonight and was the difference in what was a relatively even game. Ball movement for UMass was great again and they did a solid job avoiding costly turnovers. For the Flyers, Trey Landers delivered a surprise performance with 22 Points (11-14) and 9rebounds. Hines was great once again and Pipkins (28 points and 8 Assists) delivered when he needed to, despite a bit of luck on his part.
Final Score: 86-82
Record: 11-13 (4-7)
Team Stats: UMass Dayton
Field Goals: 33-71 32-66
3 Point Field Goals: 12-26 5-22
Free throws: 8-11 13-22
Rebounds: 35 (9) 39 (12)
Assists: 27 22
Turnovers 10 11