Opponent: La Salle Explorers
Leauge: Atlantic 10 Conference
– The Minutemen got off to a great start thanks to strong defense and a number of early turnovers from La Salle in the opening minutes.
– C.J. Anderson led UMass with two buckets early to head into the first media timeout with an 8-2 lead.
– The production in the first eight minutes of the game was solely Anderson and Luwane Pipkins who started a combined 4-5 from three to contribute fifteen of UMass’ first sixteen points. La Salle’s scoring distribution was far more balanced and the Explorers were able to cut the lead back to four. (16-12)
– Shortly after, the Minutemen began to struggle from the field, missing six straight shots. Luckily, La Salle failed to find the range as well in this three minute drought for both teams.
– With nine and a half minutes remaining in the half, Pipkins (15 points 4-7 3P) pulled up and nailed a deep NBA three on the fast break to end the dry spell for UMass.
– At the eight minute mark, Malik Hines got on the board for the Minutemen with a powerful two handed slam, but Pookie Powell (18 points) responded on the following possession with a slashing one handed dunk of his own to cut the lead to four. (21-17)
– The Minutemen never relinquished the advantage in the first half, but B.J Johnson tied the game at 27 with three and a half minutes left in the period.
– C.J Anderson (21 points. 7 rebounds, 4 assists) concluded the final three minutes as he started, nailing a mid range jumper and three point leading the Minutemen into the locker room with a 30-28 lead.
– UMass had clearly controlled the flow of the game in the first half but Tony Washington (20 points, 12 rebounds) established his size early and gave La Salle their first lead of the game on a pair of free throws at the seventeen minute mark. (34-36)
– The Minutemen stayed resilient and regained the lead on a Carl Pierre (11 Points, 6 rebounds) jumper nearly six minutes later. (47-45)
– Previously, Khalea Turner Morris had contributed valuable minutes off the bench. His efforts along with Pierres jumper catalyzed a 10-0 run that was capped off by an Anderson three. The lead had stretched back to seven (52-45) and the Minutemen were in control.
– Still, La Salle found a way to crawl back into the contest, eventually tying the score at 57 after a steal by Shuler, leading to an and one for B.J Johnson (18 points, 4 rebounds).
– Carl Pierre was clutch once again, taking the lead back with a floater on the the following possession before Johnson responded with a pull up jumper of his own. (59-59)
– UMass stayed aggressive and found itself at the foul line a number of times in the final five minutes.
– They were able to hold the lead and found themselves up three with just under a minute remaining after Ray Miller converted on both from the stripe.
– After the makes, Amar Stukes rushed down the floor for a quick basket and the Explorers clamped down on the defensive end to get a much needed stop.
– With fourteen seconds remaining, UMasss led by one. (68-67)
– The Explorers drew up a play and the ball ended up in the hands of Powell whose runner rimmed out.
– With eight seconds remaining, Luwanne Pipkins was fouled, splitting the free throws and stretching the UMass lead to two.
– On the final possession, the ball was in the grasp of Powell once again. With the game on the line, he launched a deep three for the win. The shot bounced off the side rim as the final horn sounded and the Minutemen were victorious.
– The game concluded with a final score of 69-67.
– La Salle was led by the three headed monster of Powell, Washington and Johnson, but recieved very little contributions from role players
– The Explorers did a fantastic job of taking the ball, only turning it over two times in the final thirty seven minutes after the slow start.
– Both teams were aggressive and got to the foul line over twenty times, but neither distributed the ball well on the night.
– The Three point shot was a huge difference maker for the Minutemen, outscoring the explorers 30-3 from beyond the arc.
– C.J. Anderson’s play in the past few weeks has been outstanding. His added scoring and leadership abilities simply will this team to victory.
Team Stats: UMass La Salle
Field Goals 21-51 (41.2%) 21-57 (36.8%)
3 Point Field Goals 10-23 (43.5%) 1-16 (6.3%)
Free Throws 17-24 (70.8) 24-29 (82.8%)
Rebounds 37 (9) 29 (7)
Assists 9 6
Turnovers 15 5
– The second round of the Atlantic-10 Tournament, Thursday, March 8th at 2:30 P.M. against the George Mason Patriots.