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Shorthanded, UMass men’s basketball shocks Dayton with 62-60 win -

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January 3, 2018

Shorthanded, UMass men’s basketball shocks Dayton with 62-60 win

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

Having only eight players on scholarship automatically puts the Massachusetts men’s basketball team in a weak position vs. most teams.

With C.J. Anderson and Rashaan Holloway suspended and not making the trip up to Dayton, UMass coach Matt McCall was left with six scholarship players to take on the Flyers.

The odds were against the Minutemen. But with the game in its final minute, UMass found itself with a two-point lead, they just had to survive one last Dayton possession with 19 seconds left on the clock.

The Flyers passed the ball around the perimeter, looking to put the Minutemen away with a 3-pointer. The opening could not be found, so, instead the Flyers kicked the ball out to Darrell Davis – the team’s leading scorer and a top ten scorer in the Atlantic 10.

Abandoning the 3-point attempt Davis drove to the net, first meeting Carl Pierre then Malik Hines. The senior guard was gunning for the tie and maybe even a chance at thee-point play.

Davis got neither.

The ball danced between the backboard and the rim before falling into the hands of a jubilant Rayshawn Miller.

The 62-60 victory marked the Minutemen’s first conference win and the Flyers’ second conference loss.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder of a team after a game,” McCall said. “Just the resiliency and the fight they showed to keep competing. Offensively, we struggled down the stretch. We completely relied on our defense. We were undermanned. You’ve got a freshman in Carl Pierre who plays 35 minutes. Luwane Pipkins plays 37. They found a way to win.”

With Anderson and Holloway unavailable, both of which regularly start, McCall had to heavily rely on some of his other pieces. Both Unique McClean (36) and Chris Baldwin (27) saw significantly more minutes on the floor than what they’re used to seeing.

Along with McClean, McCall needed strong performances from Pierre and Luwane Pipkins. The guards did not disappoint.

Asked to handle point guard responsibilities that usually belong to Anderson, Pipkins played 37 minutes and scored 25 points.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to play hard,” Pipkins said. “We’ve got to play tough. We’ve got to play to our identity. We stayed together and just got the job done.”

With the exception of Jaylen Franklin and Michael Gillespie, who have combined to play seven minutes this season, McCall was left with seven players to piece together 60 minutes of basketball.

Pipkins, Pierre, McClean, Baldwin and Hines were the starting five for the Minutemen. Holloway’s absence forced McCall to start a smaller lineup than usual.

While McClean only scored six points, the redshirt freshman picked up nine rebounds, tied with Hines for most on the team.

“I thought our group was extremely connected,” McCall said. “When we’ve shown that this year, we’ve shown we can win some big games. When we haven’t shown that out there on the floor or in practice, we’ve struggled. It’s a great lesson for out team going forward.”

After being down by as much as 11 in the first half, the Minutemen kept it close and entered halftime trailing 32-27.

The Flyers 46.2 3-point shooting percentage was enough to keep the Minutemen at a safe distance in the first half. That percentage dropped to 27.3 percent in the second half, giving UMass a better chance to take the lead.

UMass will travel home and take on La Salle Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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

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