Otis Livingston II, George Mason drop UMass men’s basketball 80-72

By Philip Sanzo

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

With nearly identical numbers in almost every statistical category, it’s no surprise that the Massachusetts men’s basketball team and George Mason needed overtime to decide a winner.

A back and forth second half was followed by a dominant Patriot overtime. At the center of it all in the game’s final five minutes — and the 40 minutes that proceeded it – was Otis Livingston II. The Patriots ultimately defeated UMass 80-72, handing the Minutemen their second conference loss.

The junior guard finished with 33 points, nine in the overtime alone.

“That’s two straight games where we have just gotten completely outplayed by a guard,” UMass coach Matt McCall said, referencing Saturday’s loss to St. Bonaventure and the performances put on by Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley.

The largest and most significant stat deferential was the rebounds. GMU’s 49 boards exceeded UMass’ total by 10.

With UMass (7-8, 0-2 Atlantic 10) trailing 73-72 with less than a minute remaining in overtime, Livingston attempted a three from the corner, directly in front of his bench. The shot had the potential to be deadly if made. Instead it clanked off the rim and caromed in the direction of GMU’s Ian Boyd.

Luwane Pipkins, attempting to box out Boyd, made at effort at the rebound but was a few inches short. The Patriots (7-8, 1-1 Atlantic 10) retained possession and Livingston got a second chance. This time driving to the rim, he would not be denied. The layup fell and a free throw followed. The Patriots ended up taking the 76-72 lead and only half a minute remained.

“I thought the last possession there where we gave up an offensive rebound and then allowed Livingston to get down the lane was just a complete bi-product and a microcosm of the game in itself,” McCall said. “Getting out-rebounded on your home floor by 10, they had 18 offensive rebounds, that’s just too many. And when you’re shooting from beyond-the-arc like we did at 5-for-27 in the game and you give up that many offensive rebounds, then it’s hard to win.”

During regulation, the Minutemen handled the ball with care for the most part – only giving up seven turnovers. However, in overtime the UMass turned the ball over five times, three from the hands of Pipkins and two from C.J. Anderson.

Struggling from beyond-the-arc (UMass went 5-27 from three) the Minutemen looked to get their big men involved.

Rashaan Holloway’s consistency and ability to stay out of foul trouble has been an issue that McCall has addressed multiple times throughout this season. There was no issue with how he played Wednesday night, though.

The junior center finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, along with tacking on a career high six blocks — he even added two steals.

Malik Hines contributed an expected nine points and nine rebounds in 32 minutes.

With nothing but conference games remaining for UMass over the course of the next two months, McCall was adamant about his team not taking any game lightly.

“I think it was almost like a shell-shock. Like ‘George Mason they’re playing hard, well of course they’re playing hard it’s the league, it’s the Atlantic 10. Every single night teams are going to play hard. Whether you’re playing George Mason or VCU, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to bring it every night and that starts in practice.”

UMass will travel to Dayton, Ohio Saturday to take on the Flyers. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m.

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