Cougars edge Minutemen

  • UMass coach Matt McCall shouts instructions during a recent game. Recorder File Photo

For The Recorder
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

HAMDEN, Conn. – After trailing for most of the game, UMass erased a 12-point second half to take a lead, but couldn’t finish off the comeback.

Instead, the Minutemen went cold at key points late and fell to Quinnipiac, 68-66, Wednesday at TD Bank Sports Center.

Trailing 53-47 with 9 minutes, 23 seconds left, Rashaan Holloway had six points in an 11-4 run that put UMass up 58-57 with 5:44 left.

But after Luwane Pipkins missed a jumper, he reached in and fouled Rich Kelly near midcourt. The foul-plagued Minutemen had already put the Bobcats in the bonus and Kelly made both free throws, starting a 7-0 run that left UMass trying to dig out of the hole down 64-58 with 2:52 left.

“It’s a lack of discipline. We’re up one and Pip fouls near half court,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “There’s a lack of discipline when you miss layups and you don’t run what we’re calling. We’ve got to get better.”

Back-to-back layups by C.J. Anderson brought UMass within two at 64-62 with 36 seconds left, but Kelly made two more free throws with with 27 seconds left to make it 66-62.

Holloway put back Anderson’s miss with 16 seconds left, but Cameron Young hit two more free throws to keep the margin at four with 15 seconds left. Another Anderson miss, this time on a 3-point try, was followed by another Holloway put back to make it 68-66 with 5.6 seconds left.

UMass went for the steal on the inbound and over-committed, allowing Young to slip free and run out the clock.

The Minutemen lost despite scoring more baskets (28-19) and out-rebounding (40-30) Quinnipiac, but the Bobcats (2-5) made 22-of-27 free throws, while UMass made 3-of-5.

“We shot five free throws,” McCall said. “That’s not being aggressive. That’s not putting pressure on the paint. We shot five free throws to their 27. When there’s that big a differential, especially when we out-rebounded them and shot a decent percentage from 3-point (41.2), it’s going to be hard to win.”

Anderson had a career-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds. Holloway had 14 points and seven rebounds in just 17 minutes.

Led by eight early points by Chaise Daniels (12 points), Quinnipiac scored nine straight points to take a 17-10 early lead on the strength of 6-for-10 shooting. But the Bobcats cooled off and UMass started to climb back in. Led by Anderson’s 14-first-half points, the Minutemen got back within two at 29-27 with 4:19 left despite two fouls apiece on Holloway, Chris Baldwin and Unique McLean. But UMass got sloppy and Quinnipiac got hot from the field.

The Bobcats finished the half on a 9-2 run as the Minutemen were 1-for-6 with two turnovers during that stretch and trailed 38-29 at intermission.

“I thought we played a good second half,” McCall said. “But our margin for error is so small. It can’t be that we play one good half and one bad half.”

UMass (3-4) is at South Carolina, Saturday at 2 p.m.

“We could have a a great year. We could win a lot of games with this team, but there has to be 100 percent buy in with everything we’re doing,” McCall said. “Not just out of the floor. Doing all the little things because our margin of error is so small.”

“We can’t get down on ourselves. I keep telling the guys ‘It’s going to turn around for us,’”Anderson said. “It’s going to happen soon. We have to keep playing.”