Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball overcomes late George Mason run to secure 70-64 win

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(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team wasn’t going to allow it to happen again.

Leading by 14 at halftime, UMass (12-14, 5-9 Atlantic 10) watched as its lead slowly whittled down to as few as three with two minutes, 32 seconds remaining remaining against George Mason at Mullins Center.

The Patriots then missed 3-of-4 free throws in the final 1:52, as the Minutemen went a perfect 6-for-6 at the charity stripe in the final minute of regulation to escape with a 70-64 win.

UMass never trailed at any point in Sunday’s game.

“It was nice to see us battle through a little bit of adversity there and still come away with a win,” Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg said. “I thought (George Mason) did a nice job making a push there in the second half. They got the ball inside and started hitting us pretty good on the boards and I thought we responded.”

Leading by two with 11:18 remaining in the first half, the Minutemen went on a 10-0 run capped off by a pair of 3-pointers from Zach Coleman and Trey Davis and another pair of layups from Davis and Jabarie Hinds to take a 22-10 lead.

Hinds led all Minutemen with 17 points while Davis (16) and Antwan Space (15) finished close behind in one of their most balanced scoring efforts of the season.

UMass extended its largest lead of the day to 16 points when Space converted a spin-move layup off a C.J. Anderson assist with 5:28 remaining in the first half.

Anderson, who led the Minutemen with nine rebounds, added four points, four steals and three assists after his status for GMU (9-18, 3-11 A-10) was in question after he suffered a stress fracture in his foot at the end of the Fordham game Wednesday.

“I was worried about it because they told me it was the same injury as Malik Hines,” Anderson said.

“Once I started walking around and got through the walk through. I did a couple exercises right before the game. I was feeling good. Once I step on the court, I don’t feel anything,” he added.

Both Kellogg and Space didn’t expect anything less from Anderson.

“He’s got that Memphis toughness to him on the floor. That’s why I was hopeful he was going to play today. We did need some of the things he gave us out there,” Kellogg said.

“I didn’t expect any different. I know he wanted to play. I know he’s a competitor. For him not to play, that would have been very surprising,” Spaced added.

After Otis Livingston II (Patriot-high 15 points) made all three of his free throw attempts with 6:39 remaining in regulation, Donte Clark (nine points) hit a 3-pointer with time winding down in the shot clock to extend UMass’ lead to seven.

Despite grabbing 14 offensive rebounds, George Mason shot just 23-of-60 (38.3 percent) from the field and a dismal 1-for-18 from 3-point range.

One of the Minutemen’s main focal points entering Sunday was their ability to slow down GMU big men Shevon Thompson and Jalen Jenkins. Thompson finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, while Jenkins added 10 points playing 31 minutes off the bench.

UMass spent most of the evening double-teaming both Thompson and Jenkins when they caught the ball on the low-post, allowing Minutemen guards like Anderson and Clark to get steals when the George Mason front court but the ball to the floor.

“They’re big, they’re physical and they’re hard to handle one-on-one so I thought our guards and wing-guys did a good job of getting in there and mixing it up and not leaving Tyler (Bergantino) and Space and (Zach Coleman) and even Rashaan (Holloway) down there by themselves. That was important for us,” Kellogg said.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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