AMHERST, Mass. – Luwane Pipkins
scored a game-high 38 points as the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team fell to VCU 82-78 in a back-and-forth affair on Wednesday night in the Mullins Center. The Minutemen (11-17 Overall, 4-11 Atlantic 10) rallied back to pull within a possession late at 78-75 on a night when there were six ties and 13 lead changes.
Nine of those lead changes came in the first half as UMass jumped out to a 12-6 lead. A balanced Minuteman attach saw all five starters score within the first 3:20 of the contest while UMass assisted on all seven of their first seven made field goals.
knocked down his first three of the night to go ahead 17-14 as UMass converted on 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from deep to open up the night. Anderson finished with 15 points to go along with six assists and three boards.
VCU (16-12 Overall, 8-7 Atlantic 10) rallied back after UMass pulled ahead by its largest margin of the night at five points to go ahead 26-21 after four made field goals in a row.
A pair of consecutive 3-pointers from Pipkins and Rayshawn Miller
put the Minutemen ahead 35-33 with 4:11 left in the first half while Pipkins knocked down another one late in the half to bring the lead back to one before VCU scored to take a 39-38 lead into the locker room for halftime. UMass shot just 40.5-percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, but knocked down eight from behind the arc while assisting on 10-of-15 made field goals.
After another Pipkins 3-pointer in the second half put the Minutemen up 44-42, VCU responded by scoring 10 of the next 12 points to build their then largest lead of the night at 52-46. Anderson and Pipkins combined for 13 straight UMass points midway through the second, capped off by a pair of Anderson free throws that knotted the score at 65-65 with seven minutes remaining.
VCU scored eight straight points after UMass tied it up to pull ahead 73-65 after an apparent goaltend denied the Minutemen their first lead since the 12:01 mark in the second half. The VCU lead extended to double-digits for the first and only time of the evening at 78-68 before UMass responded with a late push to pull within a possession.
helped spark a 7-0 UMass run, scoring off a Pipkins steal in the full court press to pull within five before a Pipkins layup with 46-seconds left brought the Minutemen within three at 78-75 before a pair of Justin Tillman layups put VCU back up seven points with 21-seconds left.
Pipkins scored 24 of his 38 points in the second half, knocking down eight 3-pointers on 8-of-13 from deep to tie his career-high for threes made in a game while adding six assists and four rebounds. Carl Pierre
was the third Minuteman to reach double-figures as the freshman added 10 points while McLean finished with a team-high seven rebounds.
UMass will head out on the road for a pair of matchups away from home against George Mason and Richmond, beginning with the Patriots on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.
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