UMass men advance with win over St. Joseph’s
PITTSBURGH — UMass escaped a late collapse and advanced to the second round of the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball championship with a 70-63 win against St. Joseph’s last night at PPG Paints Arena.
No. 12 UMass (15-17, 5-14) will face No. 5 St. Bonaventure in the second round today (2:30 p.m.). The Minutemen lost both of their meetings against the Bonnies this season, including a 60-56 loss at St. Bonaventure last Saturday.
“There’s not much preparation (for St. Bonaventure). Luckily, I think we played them six days ago,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “The good thing is we play a lot of players, and we’ve done that all year. Each team is different, but I do think my team wants to come and play. I think they’ll be engaged and will want to compete.”
The Minutemen hit a 3-pointer on three straight possessions midway through the second half to take a 16-point lead with 10:10 remaining.
The run began with freshman guard Luwane Pipkins hitting one from the corner with 12:17 left to put UMass ahead 45-33 before St. Joseph’s forward James Demery, who had a game-high 21 points, made a layup on the Hawks’ ensuing possession. C.J. Anderson hit a 3-pointer to make it 48-35 with 11:19 remaining, and Demery answered again nine seconds later.
Anderson led the Minutemen with 17 points.
Pipkins, who had 13 points with 11 in the second half, kept it going with another 3-pointer, and DeJon Jarreau pushed the lead to 53-37 with a layup that forced St. Joseph’s to take a timeout with 10:10 left.
St. Joe’s pulled to 58-53 with 4:12 left on a 3-pointer from Charlie Brown, 59-55 after guard Chris Clover made a jumper with 1:00 remaining and 66-63 on a layup from Demery with 14 seconds left, but UMass held on.
Anderson sealed the win with a dunk that made it 70-63 with six seconds left.
“I felt like we got a little complacent,” Anderson said. “We saw a lead and we tried to slow the ball down. I felt like we should’ve kept attacking.”
Junior guard Zach Lewis also thought the Minutemen backed off late.
“That’s the toughest part of a game,” Lewis said. “You have a big lead and you look at the time, so it’s like we’re waiting for the time to go down, but we’re also trying to be aggressive and score. So, it’s just a tough part for any team.”
The UMass offense ignited with a 10-0 run jump-started by a 3-pointer from Donte Clark that cut St. Joseph’s lead to 15-14 with 9:55 remaining in the first half.
Pipkins followed Clark with two free throws to give UMass a 16-15 lead with 8:23 left.
On the following possession, the Minutemen struggled to penetrate the paint, which forced them to take the shot clock to four seconds before Lewis, who led UMass with nine first-half points, hit his second trey of the half to push the lead to 19-15.
Clark blocked Demery and Anderson made a layup in transition to make it 21-15 with 7:05 left. Lewis capped the run with UMass leading 23-15 on a pair of free throws.
UMass defeated St. Joseph’s for the third time this season.
“I thought we played a great stretch in the second half, and then they made some great plays to get back in the game,” Kellogg said.
“A well-fought college basketball game. We’re excited to go after St. Bonaventure again tomorrow.”