UMass notebook: Thanksgiving break recap

By Philip Sanzo

(Daily Collegian/ Caroline O’Connor)

While students went home for the week to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Massachusetts men’s and women’s basketball teams and hockey team continued its seasons.

Here’s everything you missed from the past week.

Men’s basketball gets swept in Brooklyn

After starting the Barclays Center Classic with two wins over Niagara and Western Carolina in Amherst, the Minutemen traveled to Brooklyn to play No. 14 Minnesota and Brigham Young University.

Against two challenging opponents, UMass was in a position to make a statement with any sort of win. Following a predictable 69-51 loss to Minnesota, the Minutemen appeared to be playing one of their better games against BYU but let their lead slip away late in the game. The Cougars ended up coming away with the 68-66 win in the final seconds.

In attendance at UMass’ game vs. Minnesota was former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. Pitino’s son, Richard Pitino, serves as the head coach of the Gophers. UMass coach Matt McCall said he spoke to Pitino following the game.

“The second the game was over I made sure I went in there and shook his hand,” McCall said. “[He] was great to me when I got the job; I called him and went up to his golf event in Saratoga. Obviously I wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for coach Pitino because there wouldn’t be Billy Donovan. I owe him a lot, and obviously one of the best coaches to ever coach this game.”

Women’s basketball drops 3-of-4

The Minutewomen were in danger of dropping four straight, but a Paige McCormick 3-pointer from the corner gave UMass a 64-61 win at the buzzer vs. Liberty on Saturday.

The win was the Minutewomen’s third of the season, pulling them even with their loss count at 3-3.

A day prior on Friday, UMass had fallen to Northeastern 64-54. The Minutemen had led the Huskies 34-33 at halftime.

It had been a tough week for the Minutewomen to that point. After starting the season 2-0, UMass traveled to North Dakota for two games against North Dakota State and North Dakota on Nov. 17 and Nov. 19, respectively. NDSU, a team UMass had defeated in Amherst last season 70-58, came away with an 82-70 victory. North Dakota followed suit also scoring 82 points, however, this time the Minutewomen only managed 52 of their own.

Hockey sweeps home-and-home with Quinnipiac

Nearly two months into the season, UMass hockey has a winning record.

The Minutemen tied their 2016-17 win count (five) on Nov. 11 with a victory over Providence. And with back-to-back wins vs. Quinnipiac this past weekend, UMass is now 7-6.

After a close 2-1 game Friday, UMass put up six goals on Saturday to defeat the Bobcats 6-3. Niko Rufo put together a hat trick in the win and Oliver Chau added two more goals to his season total. Chau leads all Minutemen with six goals and 13 points.

The Minutemen will return to Hockey East action this coming Friday and Saturday with a home-and-home series vs. Connecticut. UMass will be hosting UConn on Friday at 7 p.m.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.