AMHERST, Mass. –
University of Massachusetts men's basketball team rallied from behind double-digits for the second straight contest as they came back from down 16 points in the second half to defeat Saint Joseph's 72-69 for their third straight win in Atlantic 10 play. The Minutemen (10-8 Overall, 3-2 A-10) trailed 41-25 with 18:30 left in regulation before out-scoring the Hawks (7-9 Overall, 2-3 A-10) 47-28 the remainder of the way after facing their largest deficit of the day.
led the Minutemen in scoring for the fifth straight game and 14th
time this season with a game-high 27 points while converting on five straight attempts from the free throw line to close out the Hawks late. The sophomore added a team-leading seven rebounds and six assists.
Saint Joseph's opened up the game shooting 5-of-5 from the field, using a 9-0 scoring run to go ahead 11-3 before connecting on one of their next six shots as the Minutemen rallied back to tie things up with a quick scoring run of their own.
knocked down a pair of triples as UMass came back to tie it up at 16-16, including one in the middle of a 7-0 run that brought the Minutemen with a point before his second of the half tied the game. Pierre scored eight of his 17 points in the first half for a UMass team that shot just under 36-percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Pipkins put in five straight points after Saint Joseph's answered the run with another run, this one a 7-0 run to bring the score to 23-16.
The Hawks closed the half on another 8-0 run, out-scoring UMass 21-9 after the game was all squared at 16-16 to go ahead 37-25 heading into the break. Saint Joseph's shot 54-percent in the opening half on 14-of-26 led by Shavar Newkirk's 14 first-half points. A quick start to the second half saw the Hawks go ahead by their largest margin of the day at 16 points.
UMass steadily chipped away at the Saint Joseph's lead behind a 63-percent (7-of-27) shooting half where the Minutemen made 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Chris Baldwin
forced a Hawks timeout with an elbow jumper that brought the score to 52-46 after five straight UMass points. Pierre lessened the gap once more with his second 3-pointer of the half with 7:21 remaining to pull within four points at 56-52. UMass followed by making their next three shots after the Pierre triple as C.J. Anderson
attacked the hoop in straight possessions before a Rayshawn Miller
three tied the game at 59-59.
gave UMass their first lead since the opening minute with 4:04 remaining with a layup off an Anderson assist prior to Pierre converting from deep to push the lead to five points at 65-59.
Saint Joseph's pressured late to bring the game back within a point three times as Pipkins converted on the final five free throws to ice the game for a UMass team that shot 8-of-11 from the line in the second.
Newkirk and James Demery led the Hawks with 22 points apiece for a team that shot 13-of-36 in the second half and made just one of 11 attempts from deep as the Minutemen completed their comeback.
Anderson finished with 12 points to lead the UMass bench in scoring while adding four rebounds and four assists. McLean ended with eight points on 4-of-5 from the field to go along with five rebounds.
The Minutemen will head out on the road next week as they travel to Kingston, R.I. for a league matchup against Rhode Island on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. before returning home to take on Saint Louis on Jan. 20 at 2 p.m.
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