Defense carries UMass past Quinnipiac, 69-62

  • Luwane Pipkins, left, of UMass, shoots against Tyrese Williams, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Keon Clergeot, right, of UMass, drives to the basket and draws a foul from Abdulai Bundu, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Curtis Cobb, right, of UMass, shoots against Jacob Rigoni, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Luwane Pipkins, center, of UMass, finds a shot between Quinnipiac defenders Aaron Robinson, left, and Travis Atson, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Luwane Pipkins, left, of UMass, shoots against Jacob Rigoni, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jonathan Laurent, right, of UMass, looks for a way around Quinnipiac defenders Tyrese Williams, left, and Aaron Robinson, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Luwane Pipkins, right, of UMass, slaps the ball away from Cameron Young, left, of Quinnipiac, while defending him with teammate Khalea Turner-Morris, Wednesday, at the Mullins Center. The subsequent loose ball was recovered by Pipkins who passed to Carl Pierre for a breakaway goal. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass players Rashaan Holloway, left, and Curtis Cobb, right, reach for a rebound against Kevin Marfo, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carl Pierre, left, of UMass, shoots against Travis Atson, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rashaan Holloway, left, of UMass, treies to send a rebound past Travis Atson, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jonathan Laurent, right, of UMass, passes away from Jacob Rigoni, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rashaan Holloway, top, of UMass, shoots as teammate Jonathan Laurent, left, blocks Quinnipiac defender Jacob Rigoni, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rashaan Holloway, back, of UMass, and Abdulai Bundu, of Quinnipiac, eye a loose ball that occurred after a rebound attempt, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Curtis Cobb, right, of UMass, shoots against Travis Atson, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Luwane Pipkins, left, of UMass, moves the ball against Aaron Robinson, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jonathan Laurent, top, of UMass, dunks besdie Quinnipiac defenders Kevin Marfo, left, and Jacob Rigoni, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carl Pierre, right, of UMass, moves the ball against Jacob Rigoni, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/28/2018 10:55:46 PM

AMHERST — It didn’t take long for UMass to show that the defensive edge it found in Las Vegas made the trip back to Amherst with the Minutemen.

A little less than two weeks ago, the defense seemed to be tied to how well the Minutemen were playing on offense. When shots weren’t falling for UMass, the other end of the floor tended to suffer as well, and when the shots did go in, the defense normally played well.

That wasn’t the case on Wednesday when UMass missed 12 of its first 15 shots and looked out of sorts on offense for most of the first 10 minutes. Instead of letting the poor shooting deflate them, the Minutemen raised their level on defense and held Quinnipiac to 24 percent shooting in the first half.

It was a strong enough effort for UMass to build a large lead and then hold through self-inflicted mistakes to capture a 69-62 win over the Bobcats at the Mullins Center.

“When the ball’s not going into the net, it’s hard to get stops and we saw that earlier on this year with Howard,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “The ball wasn’t going in the net for us (Wednesday), and we were still able to get stops. For that, I was proud.”

Even though UMass (5-3) was struggling to score, its defense created havoc for Quinnipiac and denied the Bobcats much room to operate. That style lasted for much of the opening 30 minutes as the Minutemen slowly built a 21-point edge once their offense heated up. UMass ended the first half on an 11-1 run and then made eight of its first 13 shots in the second half to build that lead.

The biggest difference was how the Minutemen were running their offense. In the first part of the opening half, UMass wasn’t nearly as aggressive at attacking the paint and opening up its shooters. But once Luwane Pipkins, who finished with a game-high 20 points and seven assists, started to drive the paint and dish off to open shooters, the Minutemen began making shots.

UMass shot nearly 50 percent from the field in the second half, including 7 of 13 from behind the arc.

“I feel like we got cleaner looks because we were getting into the paint and pushing the pace,” sophomore guard Carl Pierre said. “When we get into the lane and kick out, those 3s are much easier.”

The Bobcats (2-3) were shooting just 23 percent from the floor when the Minutemen took their largest lead, but that’s when things began to change.

Quinnipiac threw on its press and it rattled UMass a bit and forced it into turnovers off horrendous passes. The Bobcats were able to cut the lead down to nine over the next six minutes by feasting off those turnovers and turning them into easy points at the other end. Quinnipiac finished with 20 points off 19 UMass turnovers in the game.

“They were able to chip away at the lead because of turnovers,” McCall said. “We were constantly scrambling after turning the ball over trying to find shooters, trying to match up. Our half-court defense was really good, but our turnovers led to points for them. If you take that aspect out of the game, we would have held them into the 40s.”

McCall said he didn’t think the press actually bothered UMass, it just didn’t execute away from the ball correctly. He said the Minutemen didn’t fill the right spots in the press break and it resulted in the guards not having options to whom to pass the ball.

Redshirt junior Curtis Cobb said he thought his teammates were trying to complicate a relatively simply play and it resulted in the miscues.

“Guys were just thinking too much,” the guard said. “We were just thinking too much, maybe we thought it was going to be harder than it was to do, but it’s just simple ball movement. Guys were trying to do a little too much at first then we calmed down and got through.”

The Minutemen were also hampered by a rash of fouls that sent Quinnipiac to the line for free throws in the middle of the second half. The Bobcats converted 15 of 19 free throws in the final 20 minutes after only managing to go to the line five times in the first half.

McCall said those fouls made the game choppier and took UMass out of the rhythm that led it to the bigger lead.

“It can take you out of your flow, especially we had it going there to start the second half, we were getting good looks and kind of built a lead,” McCall said. “And then, bam you foul, the clock stops and they go to the free throw line and they can set their defense. Where we were good tonight was when we got stops and then we got out on the break, and that’s how we have to play.”




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