UMass comeback falls short at Providence

@MattVautourDHG
Published: 12/10/2016 6:16:01 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I.  — In a game marked by turnovers, missed shots and the biggest deficit the UMass men’s basketball team had faced all season, its late run fell short.

Neither team shot free throws well all game, but Providence made enough in the final minutes to hold off the Minutemen, 75-69, Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

The last two games between the New England schools were blowout wins by the Friars and Saturday appeared to be on a path to a third.  With his team down 16 with 9 minutes, 24 seconds left, UMass coach Derek Kellogg went into the timeout planning to pick up his team.

But the Minutemen were a step ahead of him. 

“It was already taken care of,” Kellogg said. “They said ‘this game’s not over.’ They showed a little resolve in their own huddle saying that we still have a chance to do this.”

Led by Luwane Pipkins, who had 15 of his 20 points in the second half, and Rashaan Holloway (21 points and nine rebounds) UMass gradually chipped away at the lead. It used a 12-2 surge to get within 66-63 with 2:09 left, but Emmitt Holt answered with two free throws. UMass had a turnover and a missed 3-pointer on its next two possessions. Holt scored again at the other end to make it 70-63 with 51 seconds left.

“I’m very, very proud that we didn’t break,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “We played a really good basketball team, a team that’s going to win a lot of games in their league and a lot of games overall.”

The loss wasted Holloway’s best performance of the season. In the second-half comeback, the Minuteman offense ran through him almost every time down the floor. 

“I’ve been on him quite a bit,” Kellogg said. “I tell him ‘Just work. If you just work, at your size, good things will happen.’ Guys looked for him. He was much bigger than them inside.  For us to be a next-level team and compete at the highest level, you have to have an inside presence.”

Rodney Bullock led the Friars (8-2) with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Holt added 18 points.

UMass turned the ball over 19 times and shot 9-for-18 from the free-throw line.

 “That was a tough road game for us. If we could have limited a few of our mistakes and made a few more basketball plays, I think we could have been right there at the end,” Kellogg said.

“I like the way our guys fought when we got down,” he added. “I think we have a long way to go as a team – 19 turnovers against a team that wasn’t really pressing, five charges, three travels. Those are all fixable. We’re going to continue to work and get better. I like our group. Today we lost to a team that played a little better than us.”

The Minutemen (6-3) return home to face North Carolina A&T at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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




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