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 rolls over Richmond in home finale

Holloway’s 28 leads the way
(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

There’s not a ton left for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team to play for this regular season, but that didn’t show on Wednesday.

In their final home game of 2018-19, the Minutemen (11-19, 4-13 Atlantic 10) turned in one of their best performances of the season, controlling throughout and rolling to an 87-79 victory over Richmond.

“I felt it, I felt it the last two days in practice, I felt it today in shootaround, that they were into it,” said UMass coach Matt McCall. “They wanted to end this [season] in Mullins Center the right way, and we did. That’s a good basketball team we just beat… it was a good win, to close it out the right way, as unselfish as we did, as spirited as we did, with the effort we did, I was proud of these guys.”

Rashaan Holloway, who was honored as the team’s lone senior before the game, ended his Mullins career in style — the fifth-year center put up a career-high 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds, one of his most dominant efforts in a UMass jersey to date.

Jonathan Laurent, who’s been excellent of late, chipped in with another 20 points — shooting 4-of-5 from 3-point range — as the UMass frontcourt dominated the Spiders (12-17, 6-11 A-10) all evening.

Holloway was rolling early, scoring 16 of his 28 in the first half. The Minutemen rode a 29-13 rebounding advantage — leading to 17 second chance points in the first half alone — to a 36-32 halftime lead, cut into late by a Grant Golden three at the buzzer.

By game’s end, UMass held a massive 47-27 advantage on the glass, which included 19 offensive rebounds for the Minutemen and 29 second-chance points.

“That was huge,” McCall said. “Getting to the offensive glass, Rashaan has six offensive rebounds, Djery [Baptiste] has three, Unique [McLean] has three, Sy [Chatman] had two — our guys did an unbelievable job. Plus-20 on the backboard, for the game, to me that’s the difference in the game right there.”

The Spiders went on a quick 8-0 run early in the second half, but Laurent quickly answered — the redshirt junior scored seven straight points for the Minutemen at one point, hitting a three, a layup and two free throws in the span of 52 seconds to turn a one-point lead into an eight-point gap.

“They were 0-10 in the first half from the 3-point line until Golden hits the one to go into the half,” McCall said, “and as a coach, you see that all the time, and you worry that momentum gets shifted when something like that happens.

“Then going into the second half they go on a run, and we burned a timeout, we got settled in, we got our energy, got our effort back, and went on a run.”

Richmond worked back to within three minutes later, but back-to-back threes from Laurent and Keon Clergeot brought the momentum back UMass’ way, as Spiders coach Chris Mooney had to call a timeout to try and stop the bleeding.

From that point on, Richmond never got closer than seven, and the Minutemen started to run away with it.

Returning from a nagging hamstring injury, Luwane Pipkins struggled again from the field but still filled up the box score elsewhere, finishing with nine points, eight assists and six rebounds.

He orchestrated the game’s highlight play, escaping a trap underneath his own basket, speeding to the top of the key, and throwing a perfect alley-oop for Chatman who skied baseline to throw it down.

It was as much fun as the Minutemen have looked like they’re having all season.

“It’s a one-game season, every night. I told them before the game, go out and have fun. Cut it loose, play, play for each other. This team, who knows how much life this team has left. They went out and they did that. I don’t think anybody was wrapped up in themselves, I don’t think anybody was wrapped up in their numbers, their points, or anything. They were playing the right way, they were happy for Rashaan, they were happy for Sy Chatman in the way they played, you could feel it in the locker room after the game. I’m proud of those guys.”

Richmond never really got close in the final minutes, and UMass rolled to its fourth conference win.

“We haven’t really been having fun lately, but today we had fun, and we played like we enjoyed the game. We played hard for each other.”

The Minutemen have one regular-season game left, Saturday’s trip to Rhode Island, where Matt McCall hopes his team can continue to build momentum heading into the A-10 tournament next week.

“I sure hope so,” McCall said about Wednesday’s win as a possible rallying point. “I sure hope so. It’s a one-game season, never know what can happen in a tournament setting. Stranger things have happened. We’ve got a difficult game on Saturday to help get us prepared, get us more healthy, get guys more minutes and more reps, because we’re going to need everyone when we go to Brooklyn.”

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Amin_Touri.

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