UMass keeps rolling, 72-62

  • UMass’ C.J. Anderson, left, goes up for a shot under pressure from Georgia’s Rayshaun Hammonds Saturday at the Mullins Center where the Minutemen rolled to a 72-62 win. For The Recorder/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass' Unique McLean dives after a loose ball on Saturday where the Minutemen topped Georgia, 72-62, at the Mullins Center in Amherst. For The Recorder/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass' Luwane Pipkins take a jump shot on Saturday during the Minutemen’s 72-62 win over Georgia at the Mullins Center in Amherst. For The Recorder/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass' Luwane Pipkins passes off the ball under pressure from Georgia on Saturday where UMass defeated the Bulldogs, 72-62, at the Mullins Center in Amherst. For The Recorder/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass' C.J. Anderson, center, dunks over Georgia's Yante Maten, left, and Jordan Harris on Saturday where the Minutemen bested the Bulldogs, 72-62, at the Mullins Center in Amherst. For The Recorder/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass' Carl Pierre, right, shoots over Georgia's E'Torrion Wilridge during the Minutemen’s 72-62 victory Saturday at the Mullins Center in Amherst. For The Recorder/SARAH CROSBY

For The Recorder
Sunday, December 17, 2017

AMHERST — UMass coach Matt McCall’s fears were unfounded.

He was worried how his team would handle success after upsetting Providence last week, but the Minutemen followed their best win of the season with a better one.

They got off to a hot start and Georgia didn’t get within single digits in the second half until the final minute as UMass rolled over the Bulldogs, 72-62, Saturday at the Mullins Center.

“Were we going to be fat, happy and satisfied, or were we going to be hungry to get back to work?” McCall said. “I didn’t feel any complacency all week in practice. I thought our guys had the right frame of mind and that showed in a game like today. ... That was a great win for our program.”

With 5 minutes, 30 seconds left, Georgia looked ready to make a run. UMass led by as many as 22 in the first half, but out of intermission the Bulldogs dug in defensively, slowed Luwane Pipkins, and began attacking the paint. With the Minutemen in foul trouble, Georgia chipped away and cut its deficit to 65-55 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Tyree Crump.

C.J. Anderson, who’d had a quiet offensive day to that point, drove to the basket late in the shot clock and got fouled. He made both free throws. Juwan Parker missed a 3-pointer at the other end and Pipkins found Anderson open late in the shot clock.

The senior knocked down his only 3-pointer of the game, pushing UMass’ lead to 70-55 with 3:59 left as the Mullins crowd of 4,744 erupted.

The play essentially sealed the game for UMass (6-5). Georgia (7-2) made some late shots to narrow the final score, but the result wasn’t in doubt after that.

“They were playing really well in the second half,” said Anderson, who finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. “At crucial points like that, game-winning plays put us over the top.”

McCall was proud of how his team withstood Georgia’s comeback.

“It was teetering there in the second half,” McCall said. “I was a little bit concerned how we would respond? I thought we showed great resiliency. I don’t think we panicked. We kept playing the game and found a way to win.

“We’re more disciplined down the stretch now,” he added. “Defensively, in the last two games, we’ve been really disciplined down the stretch. We need to continue to be that way.”

Pipkins wasn’t as torrid as he was against Providence, but he had 12 first-half points as the Minutemen were 17-for-30 from the field and 8-for-13 from 3-point range. Carl Pierre made half of those 3-pointers and matched Pipkins’ pre-intermission total with a dozen of his own.

Pipkins finished with 17 points and six assists, while Pierre added 15 points and four rebounds.

After the teams combined for just eight first-half fouls, UMass was whistled for eight in the first five minutes of the second half, disrupting the flow as Georgia quickly turned a 19-point deficit into 12, but Chris Baldwin (11 points, four rebounds, three assists) hit a 3-pointer to settle things down again as the Minutemen were able to keep Georgia at arm’s length for most of the half.

Yante Maten led the Bulldogs with 20 points and nine rebounds. UMass center Rashaan Holloway didn’t match his numbers, but he was able to prevent Maten, who was a first-team All-SEC big man last year, from changing the game.

UMass hosts Georgia State Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“Coming off the win over Providence, we have a lot of momentum,” Anderson said. “We have to treat every game the same.”