Second half shooting leads UMass men’s basketball over Quinnipiac

Minutemen go 7-13 from three in final 20 minutes.

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Second half shooting leads UMass men’s basketball over Quinnipiac

Carl Pierre hit two second-half threes to propel the Minutemen to victory.

Carl Pierre hit two second-half threes to propel the Minutemen to victory.

Katherine Mayo

Carl Pierre hit two second-half threes to propel the Minutemen to victory.

Katherine Mayo

Katherine Mayo

Carl Pierre hit two second-half threes to propel the Minutemen to victory.

By Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

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It was a tale of two halves for the UMass offense against Quinnipiac Wednesday night.

The first half was an ugly one for the Minutemen (5-3), who couldn’t get anything going from outside. UMass was just 1-for-11 from three before Luwane Pipkins hit a three pointer at the halftime buzzer, unable to get any rhythm going offensively and chalking up just 32 total points.

The second half was a different story. Big man Rashaan Holloway grabbed an offensive rebound at the opening of the half and dished it out to a wide open Curtis Cobb who found nothing but net on a three.

That would get the Minutemen offense going, with Jonathan Laurent hitting one from deep on the next possession and Carl Pierre a minute later, and suddenly UMass had gained a 17-point lead to pave the way for a 69-62 victory.

“I thought the shot selection in the first half was really, really poor,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “I thought to start the second half, every time the ball hit the paint, we got something good. The threes that we made to start the second half and build the lead were all off paint touches, rhythm threes.”

The Minutemen finished the second half going 7-for-13 from deep. For players like Pierre, who hit two second half threes to help take control of the game, having teammates take the ball to the rim and kick out for rhythm shots makes for much better looks at the rim.

“I feel like we got a lot cleaner looks because we were getting in the paint and pushing the pace,” Pierre said. “That’s how we like to play. When we get in the lane and kick out, those threes are much easier to hit.”

When UMass was cold in the first half, it was mostly due to poor looks at the rim. Often times the Minutemen would settle for the first shot available rather than setting up the offense and moving the ball and waiting to get the best shot possible.

McCall hopes that his team moves the ball and attacks the paint the way they did in the second half moving forward.

“We were settling,” McCall said. “The threes that we took in transition, we have to be much, much better there. We have to be attacking the basket to score and getting layups. That’s when you can deflate teams when you can do that. We didn’t do that enough.”

While UMass wasn’t hitting shots in the first half, its defense continued to compete. It held the Bobcats (2-3) to 24.2 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, only allowing them to convert eight baskets.

Quinnipiac improved their scoring in the second half, but still finished the game going just 30 percent from the field. McCall was proud that his team was able to keep its focus on the defense end even while they didn’t have a rhythm offensively.

“A lot of times in those situations, with a young basketball team, when the ball’s not going into the net, it’s hard to get stops,” McCall said. “We saw that earlier in the year with Howard. The ball wasn’t going into the net for us but we still found ways to get stops.”

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @TJ__Johnston.