Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball drops heartbreaker at UCF on last-second tip-in

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(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

All the talk from the Massachusetts men’s basketball team heading into Tuesday’s night matchup with Central Florida in Orlando, Florida was focused on 7-foot-6 Knights center Tacko Fall.

But at the end of the night, it was UCF forward Shaheed Davis – standing a full foot shorter than Fall – who rose up to the occasion to down the Minutemen 67-63 and hand them their second straight loss in brutal fashion.

After a floater from UMass guard Trey Davis rimmed out with 14.7 seconds left in a 63-63 game, Shaheed Davis tipped in a missed layup from Daiquan Walker on the other end to give the Knights the permanent lead with 2.4 seconds remaining.

With Fall and his massive wingspan pressuring the ensuing inbound, Minutemen guard C.J. Anderson was called for a line violation trying to run down the line in search of an open teammate, which ultimately clinched the game for UCF (4-3).

“Honestly, (Davis) took a shot that he’s made in the past, kind of a runner off the wrong foot. It looked like it might go in and that was obviously the play of the game,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg told reporters about the shot selection on the Minutemen’s final possession.

“Then they got a tip-back. I was just a little despondent because those were plays we usually make coming down the stretch and I’m accustomed to our guys coming up with those plays,” Kellogg added.

UMass (5-3) clawed its way back into the game after digging itself into an early 15-point deficit in the first half. After heading into the halftime break down 37-25, the Minutemen went on an 11-4 run over the first two minutes, 39 seconds into the second half to cut the Knights’ advantage to five.

The Minutemen took their first lead of the game at the 10:43 mark of the final frame off a 3-pointer from point guard Jabarie Hinds to give UMass a 50-49 lead. After a period of back-and-forth action, the Minutemen held a 61-57 lead with five minutes left in regulation.

Hinds said UMass’ run was spurred by its focus on a high-tempo pace on both ends of the floor and better execution on the offensive end.

“We came out in a diamond (press defense) and just wanted to speed them up more and get the game moving,” Hinds said. “In the first half we knew we missed some shots and a couple of easy layups but I knew the second half we were just going to come back out with a stronger effort.”

However, over the final 5:19 of play, the Minutemen only recorded four points on 1-of-8 shooting as UCF battled back to retake the lead and clinch the victory.

“If one more shot probably goes (in), I think the game’s in hand to a certain extent,” Kellogg said. “Those plays are what win and lose basketball games. We had a couple roll in and out and didn’t go in. So I guess those are the breaks sometimes in college basketball.”

Davis led UMass with 20 points Tuesday, but did so on 7-of-23 shooting including 4-of-14 from 3-point range. Kellogg said he was waiting for the guard to “take the lid off the basket” and that he took too many shots to get to his point total.

“But if he makes that last runner, we’re feeling pretty good about things,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hinds rebounded from a one-point game against Mississippi last Saturday with a 14-point outing against the Knights. Kellogg said he seemed more comfortable attacking UCF’s defense compared to the stifling 1-3-1 zone UMass faced last week against the Rebels.

“He did a better job of controlling the game. Obviously, when he gets moving and there’s more open floor opportunities, he’s a much better player,” Kellogg said. “I’m looking for him to continue to get where he was when he was playing his best basketball.”

A.J. Davis led the Knights with 14 points while three others finished in double digits for UCF. Fall, who only played 16 minutes, only had four points and one block.

UMass center Tyler Bergantino was tasked off the bench to mostly face Fall while freshmen centers Rashaan Holloway and Malik Hines were limited to 12 combined minutes. Bergantino, at 6-foot-9, finished with five points in 24 minutes.

“It’s crazy, I think (Fall) turned and rotated and I went underneath his arm,” said Bergantino, who said he was happy with how the frontcourt unit limited Fall down low in the post. “It was just an unbelievable experience to go against that guy.”

Tuesday’s defeat marks the Minutemen’s first losing streak of the season. UMass continues its Florida road trip Sunday afternoon when it takes on Florida Gulf Coast in a rematch of last year’s 84-75 loss in Springfield.

 

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.

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