Georgia State uses long ball to drop UMass, 71-63

  • Malik Hines, left, of UMass, shoots against Jeff Thomas, of Georgia State, Wednesday at the Mullins Center. For The Recorder/Jerrey Roberts

  • Unique McLean, right, of UMass, tries to win a loose ball against Jordan Tyson, of Georgia State, Wednesday at the Mullins Center. For The Recorder/Jerrey Roberts

  • C.J. Anderson, right, of UMass, moves the ball against Kane Williams, of Georgia State, Wednesday at the Mullins Center. For The Recorder/Jerrey Roberts

For The Recorder
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

AMHERST – UMass’ winning streak, its Mullins Center success and the momentum and good feelings from its back-to-back signature wins all ended Wednesday.

Georgia State got hot from 3-point range, making 11 in the second half, and the Minutemen couldn’t keep up and fell 71-63, Wednesday.

“To give up 11 threes in a half, you’re not going to win too many games doing that. We can talk about finals and all that, but those are built in excuses. We got outworked, outcoached and we’ve got to look at this film,” said UMass coach Matt McCall, whose squad lost its first home game this season. “Our 3-point defense was something we were hanging our hat on. They went five guards and really spaced us out. We have to know where those 3s are coming from. We gave up 3s in transition. Any way you could give them up, we gave them up. That’s got to get corrected. You’re not going to win many basketball games when a team does that in a half.”

UMass had defended 3-pointers well coming in, allowing opponents to shoot just 31.0 percent from outside in the first 11 games. Georgia State more than doubled that hitting 64 percent from deep (16-for-25) and 73.3 percent in the second half (11-for-15).

“We don’t drive the ball very well, but we can really shoot it when we get going,” Georgia State coach Ron Hunter said. “I took our bigs out and put shooters all around. They were already killing us inside anyway, and I thought let’s get 3s for 2s. That’s what really extended the lead.”

The Minutemen led 53-47 with 7:46 left before Malik Belevi knocked down a 3-pointer that was the first rain drop in the final deluge. The Panthers hit five of their final six from outside in a 23-7 run that left UMass shell-shocked down 70-60 with just over a minute left.

UMass (6-6) closes the nonconference portion of its schedule, Friday at 4 p.m. against Maine, before the team briefly scatters for Christmas.

“We have to bounce back,” C.J. Anderson said. “We play Friday. We have to get that one before we go on break.”

Hunter said the Minutemen weren’t as sharp as they’d been on tape.

“I knew they were in finals,” Hunter said. “They just didn’t have the same energy that I’ve seen them have.”

Georgia State came in with a game plan designed to slow Luwane Pipkins, even starting the game in an ineffective box-and-one against him. He scored 14 points, but shot 4-for-15 from the field. Carl Pierre matched his 14 points, while Rayshawn Miller had 10.

D’Marcus Simonds led GSU (8-4) with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Devin Mitchell scored all 14 of his points in the second half.

UMass came out of a sloppy first half tied. The Minutemen turned the ball over 10 times, many times when the receiver wasn’t expecting the pass. Georgia Southern took advantage scoring 13 points off of those giveaways.

For the beginning of the half, UMass’ defense, helped by two Rashaan Holloway blocked shots, helped counteract the ball control woes as it opened a 20-13 lead. But D’Marcus Simonds caught fire for the Panthers, leading a 13-5 run that put the visitors ahead, 26-25.

Pierre hit a 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left to give the Minutemen a two-point lead. But with GSU inbounding from under the UMass net, Unique McLean lost Simonds cutting to the basket. The Panther guard caught the ball and laid it in before the buzzer to make it 28-28.