AMHERST, Mass. –
University of Massachusetts men's basketball weather a second half push by Dayton and upset the Flyers, 67-55 at the Mullins Center on Wednesday on the strength of a 10-point second half run as the Minutemen picked up their first Atlantic 10 Conference win of the season.
"We practiced hard the last couple days and went after each other and I thought that was key to us playing a little bit better this evening," head coach Derek Kellogg
said. "We had a better vision of what UMass basketball is all about against a team that I told our guys I thought was, if not the best, one of the best teams in our conference. I have a lot of respect for how they've played and what they've been able to accomplish this season. I was happy to see our backcourt play a little bit better this evening and give us an opportunity to be in a basketball game coming down the stretch."
led all scorers with 17 points while Rashaan Holloway
had 14 and DeJon Jarreau
tallied 13. Jarreau stuffed the box score with seven rebounds, six assists, three blocks and a steal. Holloway also collected seven boards and turned aside a pair of Dayton shots.
Kyle Davis was the only Flyer in double-figures as he scored 16 points. Scoring duo Charles Cooke and Scoochie Smith, who combined for an average of 32.6 points per game entering the contest, were held to nine apiece. Xeyrius Williams ripped down 10 rebounds.
Massachusetts led by as many as 13 points in the contest, but the Maroon and White found themselves tied with Dayton, 38-38, with 13 minutes, 51 seconds to go after the Flyers bridged halftime with a 17-4 run that included seven from Davis on a 3-pointer and two layups.
UMass responded with 14 of the next 17 points as an interior presence keyed the counter-effort by the Minutemen. Holloway converted on a pair of layup, Jarreau hit a triple and sliced to the hoop for five points during the scoring streak, Clark had a layup and jumper and Malik Hines
hit the second part of two free throw attempts.
"I think we're maturing, it's just figuring out how to win, and I think that's something that can only come through playing games and getting put in adverse situations," Kellogg said. "It shows that the guys have character and toughness and that we had a good game plan of where we wanted the ball to go on both ends of the floor."
The Minutemen built their 13-point first half lead through 11 Dayton turnovers while UMass simultaneously limited the Flyers to 34.6 percent from the floor (9-of-26). Pipkins led the charge as he scored 12 on 3-of-7 shooting with a trio of free throws. For his final points of the half, Pipkins drew a foul on Davis during a 3-point attempt, calmly stepped to the foul line and sank all three for a 34-21 advantage with 3:21 to go.
"I think we're working towards getting better and trying to play the right way more frequently during a game that will give us an opportunity to win and hopefully do the same down at Rhode Island," Kellogg said. "Just play the game the right way for as many minutes of 40 as possible."
However, a veteran Dayton squad settled in during the final three minutes and responded with the last six points of the half to close the gap to 34-27 at the break. Smith hit the second half of two foul shots while Davis hit a 3-pointer and followed with a steal-and-layup series to cap scoring in the half.
Follow the team throughout the season on Twitter and Instagram (@UMassBasketball).
Massachusetts makes the short trip to Kingston, Rhode Island, next for a Sun., Jan. 15 contest against the University of Rhode Island with the game broadcast live on NBC Sports Network. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.