- A fast start and hot shooting performance paced the UMass basketball team to an 84-62 win over Southern Illinois on Thursday morning in the third-round game of the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational at Orleans Arena. The Minutemen drilled a season-high 15 three pointers - just one shy of tying the school record - for their second straight win.
"I thought we had tremendous energy to start the game. Yesterday I thought we had our best practice of the year and that carried over - our guys were fired up from the beginning," said head coach Matt McCall
. "Our energy level was great to start the game and a lot of that came from our defense. We made a lot of threes, which this team is capable of, but it started on the defensive end of the floor. Rashaan's defensive presence today was the best I've seen in the last two years. He was unbelievable and I was really proud of him."
UMass (4-2) will now play the winner of No. 6 Nevada/Tulsa on Friday night at 7 PM. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
The Minutemen opened the game with a 16-to-2 run by way of 4-of-7 shooting from downtown. That lead grew as large as 39-19 with 3:11 in the first half and UMass closed out the strong opening stanza with 10 total three-pointers to match their previous season high for a game.
Following the intermission, UMass grew its lead to 35 points with 12:46 to go and cruised down the stretch.
While Luwane Pipkins
(15 pts, 4-9 3FG), Carl Pierre
(14 pts, 4-8 3FG) and Curtis Cobb
(11 pts, 3-9 3FG) did their damage from outside the arc, Rashaan Holloway
controlled the interior for much of the game. The big man was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field for 16 points while also adding five rebounds. Pipkins also had five rebounds while adding six assists. Jonathan Laurent
notched a team high eight boards while scoring nine points.
Southern Illinois (2-3) was led by 18 points from Eric McGill. Kavion Pippen scored 12 points and Rudy Stradnieks had 10 points before fouling out.
In addition to the sharp shooting, the Minutemen were able to turn 18 Saluki turnovers into 18 points and held a 24-to-14 edge in second chance points thanks to a +10 differential in rebounding.
Overall, UMass shot 47 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from deep, while holding SIU to 41.8 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from beyond the arc.
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