Cougars strike late in 68-66 win

  • UMass guard C.J. Anderson drives to the basket against BYU guard Elijah Bryant during the first half Saturday where the Minutemen lost a late lead to fall to the Cougars, 68-66, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. AP Photo

  • UMass center Rashaan Holloway stops BYU forward Luke Worthington from scoring during the second half on Saturday but the Minutemen could not stop BYU late as the Cougars came from behind to take a 68-66 win at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. AP Photo

For The Recorder
Sunday, November 26, 2017

NEW YORK — When the buzzer sounded and Luwane Pipkins’ desperation heave from just inside half court was off the mark, the UMass men’s basketball team looked stunned as it walked off the floor at the Barclays Center.

The Minutemen led BYU for most of the game and were up by 10 with 4 minutes, 44 seconds left, but let things get away from them in the final minutes and fell to the Cougars, 68-66, Saturday in the Barclays Center Classic.

“That was tougher to take than yesterday,” said Pipkins, whose team lost to No. 14 Minnesota, 69-51, Friday. “I’d rather get blown out than lose a game you know you can win.”

After Rashaan Holloway finished a three-point play with 13 seconds left to tie the game, 66-66, BYU called timeout. All game, UMass had successfully prevented Jahshire Hardnett from going to his left hand to drive, but on the final play of the game, he was able to and drove past Pipkins toward the basket. Chris Baldwin came over to help, leaving Yoeli Childs open on the other side. Hardnett fed Childs a perfect bounce pass, and he dunked it with four seconds left to give the Cougars the win.

“We messed up one time on Hardnett,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “He’s a left-handed player and the whole game we were forcing him to his right hand. The one time he got to his left was the last play of the game.”

BYU did a good job of containing Pipkins. The sophomore guard, who’d been UMass’ most reliable scorer, made just 1 of 12 shots and none of the five 3-pointers. He finished with a season-low nine points.

Holloway responded to McCall’s challenge to do more. He had 16 points and eight rebounds.

UMass (3-3) is at Quinnipiac Wednesday at 7 p.m.

After a Carl Pierre 3-pointer gave the Minutemen a 61-51 lead with 4:44 left, Hardnett hit a layup that started a 12-0 run giving BYU a 62-61 lead. C.J. Anderson (six points, seven assists, six turnovers) fed Holloway inside and the big man scored in traffic to put UMass back up 63-62.

Childs missed inside with 54 seconds left, but Payton Dastrup grabbed the rebound in traffic and laid it back to put the Cougars up 64-63. Anderson threw the ball away at the other end and was forced to foul Hardnett. The BYU guard made both free throws with 21 seconds left setting up the final sequence.

Dastrup’s offensive rebound was one of 19 BYU had in the game. The Cougars outrebounded the Minutemen 41-31 and turned the extra possessions into 12 second-chance points.

“They got way too many offensive rebounds and got 50-50 balls late. We bobbled balls and didn’t grab balls,” McCall said. “They got every single 50-50 ball in the game, I think, especially in the second half. It’s hard to win that way.

“Rebounding is a complete-effort thing. It’s chasing it. It’s grabbing it,” McCall added. “We had some hit our hands. We just didn’t come down with them.”

Holloway echoed his coach.

“It was a lack of a will to go and get it,” he said. “They had too many offensive rebounds in the second half. Way too many.”

UMass appeared to be in trouble in the opening minutes as Childs (19 points, 11 rebounds) scored the game’s first nine points. The Minutemen trailed 9-0 until Anderson broke the ice with a jumper to make it 9-2, 3:16 into the game.

UMass settled down and took control of the half after that. In Friday’s loss to Minnesota, Baldwin shot 3-for-11 from the field, including 2-for-7 from outside, but he appeared to be trying to shoot his way into rhythm. It paid off Saturday as Baldwin led the Minutemen with eight points and six rebounds in the first half.

McCall thought his team made progress from Friday to Saturday.

“Yesterday we didn’t play inspired. We weren’t into it, almost like we weren’t supposed to be there against a top-10 team in the country,” he said. “Today we really connected and were really inspired in the first half.”