Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball drops heartbreaker at George Mason

With Pipkins out, UMass comes close to shocking victory

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UMass men’s basketball drops heartbreaker at George Mason

By Philip Sanzo, Sports Editor

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Goanar Mar went to the free throw line hoping to keep George Mason alive. The battered Massachusetts men’s basketball team had clawed its way to a lead with less than a second on the clock.

Mar’s missed 3-pointer at the buzzer should have ended things, but Unique McLean was called for the foul, giving the freshman forward three uncontested chances to send the game to overtime.

He promptly hit one, then two and finally three free throws to give the Patriots another shot at UMass. This time they didn’t miss.

The Minutemen fell to George Mason 78-76, and an Ian Boyd buzzer-beating layup was the dagger.

“Our guys deserved to win that game. That’s bottom line,” McCall said to the Daily Hampshire Gazette postgame. “They played their hearts out and left it all out on the floor.”

With Luwane Pipkins out due to concussion symptoms that he suffered against Virginia Commonwealth, point guard duties fell on Rayshawn Miller, who collected 11 points in 42 minutes.

While not quite on par with the 20+ that Pipkins averages per game, Miller made a few clutch shots, including a layup in the paint which gave the Minutemen a 57-55 with 2:21 left in the game.

Miller, Jaylen Franklin and Randall West made up three of the seven players that Matt McCall used in the game. West, the newest member of the team, played his best game yet. In 17 minutes he scored eight points and recorded six rebounds.

Malik Hines recorded 13 points and 11 rebounds, but C.J. Anderson left the biggest mark.

With the injuries that UMass has sustained, the senior guard has been forced to step up and play a larger scoring role. With Pipkins out, Anderson’s role grew greatly—his presence was felt most in overtime.

In the final five minutes Anderson recorded nine points, hitting every shot he took. A jumper in the paint with five seconds remaining in OT tied the game at 76.

Anderson finished with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“We just decided we didn’t want to lose,” Anderson said to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “Seeing everyone out there being aggressive made me happy.”

McCall was put into an even more difficult situation with his lineup when Carl Pierre picked up his fourth foul only three minutes into the second half.

McCall has generally stayed away from accepting moral victories, however given his team’s recent setbacks he has commended their efforts, especially in the game vs. GMU.

“No one in the country would have thought we’d be in the game without Luwane Pipkins… I talked about not quitting and fighting human nature right now,” McCall said to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “Even with a game like that where two big plays didn’t go our way that easily could have, the message is get back to work.”

The Minutemen have only two games remaining before the Atlantic 10 Tournament begins on March 7. They have one more road game Wednesday at Richmond before coming home to play Duquesne, Saturday in the regular season finale.

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

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