Despite C.J. Anderson’s career high 23 points, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team was unable to come away with the victory, as it was upset by Quinnipiac 68-66 in Hamden, Connecticut.
Center Rashaan Holloway added 14 points and seven rebounds for UMass (3-4). Isaiah Washington led the Bobcats (2-5) with 14 points.
Luwane Pipkins, the Minutemen’s leading scorer heading into the game, struggled from the field, finishing with a season-low five points on 2-of-13 shooting.
The difference in the game was at the foul line. Quinnipiac got to the free throw stripe 27 times, making 22 of them. UMass only got to the line for a total of five free throws.
After an Anderson layup cut the Bobcats’ lead to two with 36 seconds remaining in the game, Quinnipiac inbounded the ball and beat the Minutemen press until Rich Kelly was fouled. He sunk both free throws, making it a four-point game with 27 seconds on the clock.
Anderson received the ensuing inbound and took it end-to-end but missed the layup. Holloway was there to tip it in, though, making it a one possession game.
UMass couldn’t force a turnover on the next inbound, forcing guard Unique McLean to foul Cameron Young. Young went to the line and calmly hit both free throws to once again give the Bobcats a four-point lead with 15 seconds left.
Anderson missed a three on the next possession, but Holloway used his size to grab yet another offensive rebound. He pump faked to get the defender in the air, then finished to make it a two-point game with six seconds remaining.
But on the next possession, Quinnipiac inbounded the ball and got a quick pass off, not allowing the Minutemen to foul before the clock ran out.
UMass coach Matt McCall felt his team didn’t come into the game with the right mindset, making the difference in the game.
“Just the mentality,” McCall said in a radio interview with 105.5 WEEI after the game. “Our mentality to start the game wasn’t good at all. We weren’t into it, we weren’t engaged, they played a lot more spirited. Their back was against the wall, they wanted to come out fighting, they wanted to come out swinging, and we wanted no part of that.”
That effort early on was something that McCall was not happy about, as his team trailed by nine going into the intermission.
“Guys need to really look themselves in the mirror as far as where this program is going and where we’re going moving forward,” McCall said. “As a coach, I need to be more aggressive and be harder on them in practice and demand a lot more out of them, because what happened tonight is unacceptable. Give Quinnipiac credit, take nothing away from them. They were the more spirited team that played terrific. One of the things that we always want to be is a hard playing team. We want to play to our identity and do those kinds of things. We definitely didn’t get enough of that.”
One of the positives from the defeat was Anderson. The 38 minutes played and the 17 shots taken were both season highs. McCall hopes to see the aggressive play continue for his lone senior.
“He was aggressive,” McCall said. “I still think he missed a few bunnies around the rim there late in the game. He just has to continue to be aggressive. We talk a lot about C.J. and how passive he is. His aggressiveness is where he’s good. When he’s got a head of steam coming down the lane, and he’s doing those kinds of things, that’s what we need him to continue to do.”
UMass looks to rebound from the loss on Saturday when they travel to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks.
Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.