Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball hangs on for 85-84 win against Fairleigh Dickinson

Luwane Pipkins’ layup in the final minute the difference
Photo by Caroline O’Connor.

The Massachusetts basketball survived a sloppy first half performance in its 85-84 win against Fairleigh Dickinson Friday afternoon at the Mullins Center.

The duo of Rashaan Holloway and Luwane Pipkins put UMass (7-5) on their backs combining for 29 points in the second half, erasing a 44-36 deficit after the opening 20 minutes.

In the last minute of the game, Knights (5-6) forward Mike Holloway—brother of the Minuteman’s big man—turned the ball over in the paint and UMass took off to the other end, finishing with a Pipkins layup that ended up being the deciding basket.

Fairleigh Dickinson nearly stole the victory with a last-second long-range basket but it dropped after the final horn sounded, sending the Minuteman off to Christmas break with a victory.

“That’s about as disappointed as I’ve been after a win,” coach Matt McCall said. “I’ve never been more disappointed after a win and not because of how we played but because of our perspective or lack thereof.”

McCall noted how Randall West fueled the rest of the UMass squad despite only seeing 10 minutes on the floor with his non-stop compete. The second-year head coach expressed his desire for the rest of the Minutemen to assume that type of spirit more often.

Holloway kickstarted the comeback in the middle portion of the second half after throwing down three consecutive dunks on three straight UMass possessions.

The Knights got lost in coverage after the Minutemen executed three pick-and-rolls and No. 45 made no mistake on each slam.

“Sometimes when we run our offense and we execute it perfectly, it can end in dunks for everybody,” Holloway said. “Keon [Clergeot] came down, he dunked one because we executed our offense, Jonathan [Laurent] came down in transition, he dunked a couple. All of our offense creates easy layups so if we run it to perfection we can get dunks every time.”

Holloway finished the contest with 18 points, which was only bested by Laurent and Pipkins who each recorded 20 points.

UMass shot 43 percent from the field in the first half while Fairleigh Dickinson was sinking shots at a 54 percent clip. The Minutemen adjusted in the second half, tightening up defensively, which led to the shots falling 75 percent of the time from the floor.

Locking down the defensive end of the floor has been an issue for UMass and on Friday it nearly cost the Minutemen.

“It’s our kryptonite,” McCall said. “We get completely consumed with offense. It’s happened multiple times this year and we have to get better there.”

Jahil Jenkins led the way for the Knights with 19 points, 10 of them coming from the charity stripe.

UMass held the advantage from three-point land with a 47 percent conversion rate from deep while Fairleigh Dickinson finished with an even 40 percent.

Laurent paced UMass with four three-pointers.

“I was feeling it since [Thursday] in practice.” Laurent said. “I had a couple of good practices, making a lot of shots so when I came into the game they were telling me to put it up and fortunately today it was going in.”

The Minutemen don’t see game action again until Dec. 30—a nine-day layoff—when they travel to Georgia to face off against the Bulldogs in Athens.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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