UMass men’s basketball loses overtime thriller to Yale 83-80

Carl Pierre hits eight 3-pointers in the loss

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UMass men’s basketball loses overtime thriller to Yale 83-80

Parker Peters/Daily Collegian

Parker Peters/Daily Collegian

Parker Peters/Daily Collegian

Parker Peters/Daily Collegian

By Javier Melo, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Massachusetts men’s basketball team lost an overtime thriller against Yale 83-80 on Wednesday, extending UMass’ (5-6) losing streak to six games.

The Minutemen held a double-digit lead midway through the second half, but failed to score in the final three minutes of regulation and allowed the Bulldogs (9-3) to pull off the comeback.

“That obviously stings, hurts a little bit,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “A little bit different from the game a week ago, this one you have a lead there with three minutes to go and missed some timely threes. If those balls go in the basket, the outcome could be different.”

Following some back-and-forth scoring to open the game, Yale started to pull away with eight minutes remaining in the first half and extended its lead to 12 points with 5:24 to go.

It was at that point that McCall subbed out Sy Chatman and brought Sean East back into the game. The lineup of East, Keon Clergeot, Carl Pierre, Samba Diallo and Tre Mitchell sparked a 23-6 run for the Minutemen that turned a 34-22 deficit to a 45-40 halftime lead.

Pierre caught fire from outside and finished the half 4-of-7 from three with 14 points. Mitchell was a bully in the post, taking whatever Yale’s defense threw at him and using his soft touch around the basket to lay the ball home. He ended the half with 10 points. East, who made a layup as time expired in the first half, took control of the offense during the final five minutes. He finished the half with 12 points and six assists.

“I just thought we started playing harder,” McCall said. “We started picking up the intensity, started picking up the pressure. I thought Keon’s two charges and the play that Tre made, where he dove on the floor for the loose ball, were momentum-changing plays for us.”

UMass started off the second half the same way they ended the first. The tempo was fast and players were knocking down shots. Pierre continued to connect from outside, and in limited minutes Djery Baptiste offered an internal presence that kept Yale from scoring baskets.

The UMass lead grew to as big as 10 points with 11:20 remaining. From there, Yale started chipping away at the deficit. A three from Matthue Cotton cut it to seven. A steal and lay-in made it a five-point lead. Azar Swain laid it in to cut the lead to three, then followed it a few seconds later with a 3-pointer to tie the game up at 56. Just like that, in two and a half minutes, the UMass lead was gone.

Pierre kept firing and kept making his threes. Mitchell continued to be aggressive in the paint and complimented the outside barrage of shots well with his interior presence. The Minutemen fought back to give themselves a 75-68 lead with 3:03 remaining.

From there, Swain hit a three to cut the deficit to four points. Two layups later, the game was tied at 75 and it was UMass ball with 49 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, UMass had a shot-clock violation. Yale was left with 20.6 seconds to win the game. Swain missed a layup and the ensuing tip-in attempts failed to go in, sending the game to overtime.

Yale won the tip and Swain hit a jumper to give Yale a 77-75 lead. Swain finished the game with 24 points and shot 6-of-11 from three. Yale sunk a handful of free throws and despite a Tre Mitchell jump hook with just over a minute left and a Carl Pierre 3-pointer as time ran down, UMass couldn’t pull it out.

Pierre finished with 26 points and shot 8-of-12 from three, while Mitchell finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

“I think that we were just kind of searching for answers,” McCall said. “Give them credit: they took Tre out there, especially when we were trying to go to him in overtime and being physical with him on the block. They were gluing to Carl and they weren’t going to let him get any looks and a lot of the offense we were running, we were running through those two guys to either get shots or post-ups. Our execution really struggled down the stretch.”

UMass was without TJ Weeks on Wednesday. The freshman is out with an abdominal injury that is non-sports related. There is no timetable for his return.

The Minutemen get a much-needed nine days to rest up before hosting Maine on Dec. 20.

Javier Melo can be reached by email at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @JMeloSports.