Pipkins (44) sets scoring record in UMass’ OT win

  • Luwane Pipkins is fired up during his record-breaking, 44-point night Wednesday at the Mullins Center in Amherst. for the recorder/thom kendall

  • UMass guard Luwane Pipkins lets one fly from the wing Wedenesday night at the Mullins Center in Amherst, where he set the school scoring record with 44 points. for the recorder/thom kendall

For The Recorder
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

AMHERST — Less than two minutes into the second half, UMass looked dead. Mirroring the similarly lifeless Mullins Center, the Minutemen fell behind by 21 points. The team cohesion UMass coach Matt McCall praised in Saturday’s win over Dayton was notably missing at that point.

But the 2,056 fans who suffered through the first half were treated to a memorable game the rest of the way, thanks to the Luwane Pipkins. The sophomore guard had 31 of his school-record 44 points in the second half and overtime and led the Minutemen to an 86-79 win.

“I’m feeling good,” Pipkins said smiling. “My body hurts, though. … I just kept being aggressive. Coaches told me to fight through the pain. I made shots.”

After he completed a three-point play with 3:55 left to tie the game at 66, he scored six more in a row to give the Minutemen a 72-66 lead with 2:19 left in regulation. Isaiah Deas, who had 17 second-half points made two 3-pointers to tie the game 72-72 with 1 minutes, 20 seconds left.

After Rayshawn Miller missed a 3-pointer, Pookie Powell hit a layup with 43 seconds left to give the Explorers back the lead.

Pipkins answered by driving to the basket and Powell reached in, sending the UMass guard to the line. He made both free throws with 25 seconds left to make it 74-74.

With a shot to be the hero, Powell’s jumper with 4 seconds left was off the mark and C.J. Anderson (nine rebounds, five assists, four steals, one point) grabbed the rebound forcing overtime.

With one of Pipkins’ various ailments slowing him down briefly to start overtime, Carl Pierre (25 points) took over the scoring yoke. He opened the extra session with a 3-point play and stretched UMass’ edge to 79-74 with 2:28 left with a short jumper.

Powell broke the overtime ice for the Explorers but couldn’t complete the and-one as UMass led 79-76 with 2:14 left.

Pipkins capped his masterpiece with back-to-back 3-pointers with 1:44 and 1:04 left to push his team’s edge to 85-76 with 64 seconds left, sealing the game.

For a while the second half was an entertaining scoring duel between Pipkins and Powell (30 points, 8 rebounds, four assists), but Powell ran out of gas and Pipkins lapped him.

UMass was down 58-47 when Pipkins’ pace went from memorable to historic. He had 21 of the Mintuemen’s last 27 points, shooting 8-for-10 from the field in that stretch.

“It’s unreal watching that,” Pierre said shaking his head. “When you see a guy who is just cooking, there’s not anything anyone on the floor can do about it. Whatever he chooses to shoot, it’s going down. It’s super fun to watch.”

The Minutemen, who are prone to sleepy starts, fell behind 8-2, as La Salle rode a rare offensive outburst by center Tony Washington early. When Pipkins scored five straight points to make it 8-7 with 15:20 left, UMass appeared to have settled things.

Instead La Salle scored nine straight points. The visitors controlled the remainder of the half and kept extending their lead and led 41-25 at intermission.