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Luwane Pipkins leads the UMass men’s basketball shooting show in 101-76 win over Niagara

(Collegian File Photo)

Luwane Pipkins hit one 3-pointer, then another, then another and eventually ended the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s 101-76 win over Niagara with seven makes from beyond the arc, good for a career-high 34 points.

Despite not making his first 3-pointer until only 3:10 was left in the first half, Pipkins’ hot hand was felt by all the UMass shooters. The Minutemen made 15-of-26 attempted 3-point shots and finished with a field goal percentage of 59.4 percent.

Pipkins has always been one to take a lot of shots, yet what made his 34-point performance that much more impressive was the efficiency in which he shot.

“I thought that he made some terrific passes, he could have had seven or eight assists if we made a couple of more shots but he makes the right play, he looks to make the right play,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “The one turnover he had, he’ll even admit it was a bad play. He came off the pick-and-roll, Rashaan wasn’t looking and it hit him in the side of the head so it was a pretty bad turnover. But even on the break, he didn’t force anything and we talked to these guys all the time, you can’t hit homeruns, don’t try to hit homeruns, hit singles.”

The sophomore hit 12-of-18 field goals and was perfect from the free throw line. However, he stuck to his motto, “shooters gonna shoot.”

“You can have a bad game, shoot until you hit and shoot until you miss,” Pipkins said. “I stayed after practice, me and Carl, getting up shots together after practice or before practice and in the game it just paid off. I just took the shot they gave me, when C.J. [Anderson] goes down the lane I know he’s going to see me so take the shots that the other team gives me and take the shots when I’m open.”

That mentality traveled far and wide throughout the UMass roster, including freshman Carl Pierre.

Only three games into his freshman season, Pierre has shown his ability to be affective from the perimeter. Against the Purple Eagles, the 6-foot-4 guard was 6-of-10 from the field, four of which counted for three points.

Playing 25 minutes and being McCall’s first choice to come off the bench, Pierre feels the prior two games have helped him learn how to get better.

“Those two games kind of gave me a taste of what college basketball is,” Pierre said. “And I think having such a long time after playing those two games, I was able to prepare smarter, knowing what to expect now. And really tune into the game plan and be ready.”

According to McCall, Pierre needs to continue to stay ferocious and avoid being casual.

“I’ve just been on him with his casualness with everything he’s doing,” McCall said. “You can’t be casual when he’s working a catch on the sideline, he had a couple of those possessions tonight. You can’t be casual on defense, had a couple of those in transition and I thought, yea the ball went through the net for him so it looks a little bit better, but I thought he had a good week of practice. He has to continue to play with a motor, play with an edge, it can’t just be about his 3-point shooting. I thought he had a good week and I thought he had some really really good minutes at the beginning of the game.”

Niagara’s primary guard, Khalil Dukes was able to score 16 points but was held to making only five shots, none from beyond the 3-point line. Though he couldn’t help on the floor Sunday, transfer Curtis Cobb played a key role in preparing the Minutemen by portraying Dukes in practice.

“You can ask Curtis Cobb about that, in practice he was the Duke on the scout team,” Pipkins said. “We played physical with him, stopped him from getting shots off, fouled him, slapped him, did whatever we could and that translated to the game on Dukes.

“I don’t think [Cobb] realized how much he helped us in practice this whole week being a good Dukes and preparing us for this game.”

Philip Sanzo can be reached at psanzo@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.

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