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UMass ends season with loss to George Mason in the Atlantic 10 Tournament

  • Jaylen Franklin, from left, Carl Pierre, CJ Anderson and Khalea Turner-Morris, walk out of the arena following UMass’ 80-75 loss to George Mason during the Atlantic 10 Tournament, Thursday at the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C. Mitchell Leff/Atlantic 10 Conference

  • Khalea Turner-Morris, from left, CJ Anderson and Carl Pierre walk of the floor following UMass’ 80-75 loss to George Mason during the Atlantic 10 Tournament, Thursday at the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C. Mitchell Leff/Atlantic 10 Conference

  • Unique McLean, left, of UMass, dunks against George Mason during their Atlantic 10 Tournament game, Thursday at the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C. Mitchell Leff/Atlantic 10 Conference

  • Luwane Pipkins, of UMass, celebrates during an Atlantic 10 Tournament game against George Mason, Thursday at the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C. Mitchell Leff/Atlantic 10 Conference

  • Carl Pierre, right, of UMass, defends a George Mason player during their Atlantic 10 Tournament game, Thursday at the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C. Mitchell Leff/Atlantic 10 Conference



@MattVautourDHG
Thursday, March 08, 2018

WASHINGTON — The game had been over for a few minutes, but C.J. Anderson lingered on the court.

The UMass senior had fouled out of UMass’ 80-75 Atlantic 10 Tournament loss to George Mason with 28 seconds left, but as the fans filed out of Capitol One Arena, Anderson stood by the scorer’s table holding back tears, almost as if leaving the court would confirm the disappointing truth — the game, the season and his college career were over, and he wasn’t quite ready.

Freshman Carl Pierre came over first, draping an arm over his teammate. Khalea Turner-Morris and Jaylen Franklin joined them and the four teammates slowly walked off the floor one more time together. The gesture meant something to the graduating senior.

“We’re more than just teammates,” said Anderson, who had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. “We’re family here. I look at everybody on my team as brothers, before the game, during the game and afterwards. I appreciate all of them.”

UMass coach Matt McCall was proud of how his team carried itself.

“I told our team after the game, that the first piece to winning in March is caring. Our guys in the locker room, they care. They are hurting, that this chapter has come to an end,” he said. “But the encouraging piece as a coach is you can see care. I see a group that’s been through an enormous amount from a year ago to now. It’s grown up and the adversity will make these guys stronger, and even a guy like C.J. that’s moving on, prepared for what’s ever next.”

Just like the teams’ first two meetings, UMass and George Mason played a game very much in doubt in the final minutes. Pierre (17 points) made two free throws with 2:27 remaining to tie the game at 73-73, but Otis Livingston II answered with two of his 14 free throws to push Mason back ahead, 75-73, with 2:01 remaining.

The teams traded misses giving the Minutemen the ball. With Mason swarming Luwane Pipkins, Rayshawn Miller had the ball late in the clock and drove toward the basket drawing contact. The junior was an 80 percent free-throw shooter, but he missed both with 50 seconds left.

Mason wound the clock down to 28 seconds when Anderson fouled Goanar Mar. He hit the first and missed the second, keeping the margin at one possession, 76-73.

Pipkins and Unique McLean missed before Malik Hines tipped the ball in with 6 seconds left to make it 76-75.

Mar was intentionally fouled and sank both free throws with 4 seconds left, leaving UMass needing something dramatic. But Pipkins was called for a push-off crossing half court and never got off a tying 3-point attempt.

Offensive rebounding and another memorable game for Livingston were the difference. The Patriots turned 20 offensive rebounds into 26 second-chance points. Livingston had 21 points and was 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.

“They shot 64 field goals to our 47 and that’s just the glass,” McCall said. “They had 26 second-chance points, and 20 offensive rebounds. So it’s hard to win when you’re giving up that many. You know, late in the game there, we just couldn’t get the stop that we needed to, and even if we had a good defensive possession, we still didn’t come down with the rebound.”

The Minutemen led by 14 in the first half before foul trouble for Hines, Pierre and Anderson seemed to disrupt their rhythm. Mason finished the half on a 23-9 run to make it 39-39 at intermission. Pipkins, who scored his 1,000th career point during the game, finished with 31 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Sitting in the locker room still in uniform, Anderson was proud of his UMass career.

“I feel like I am stone in the foundation as far as what I brought to the program the past four years, especially this past year,” he said. “It’s been a long journey. But I’m blessed and thankful to be able to play this game.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage