Amherst, MA – The University of Massachusetts Minutemen and the Harvard Crimson faced off at the Mullins Center. The game was close throughout and came down to a buzzer beating miss from half-court by Massachusetts’ senior point guard, Luwane Pipkins,that glanced off the front iron. The Crimson walked away with a 74-71 win. Harvard’s Chris Lewis, led the way for the visitors with 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting with three blocks. Sophomore forward, Danilo Djuricic added 13 including three triples. Pipkins led the way for the hosts with 36 points on 13-of-23 shooting with four made threes, five assists and four steals. Junior forward Johnathan Laurent added 11 points for the Minutemen.
The first half of this game was tight with Harvard in control for the most part and leading by two-six points for most of the half before extending the lead to double digits near the end of the half. The Crimson were led by a strong start from Djuricic, who had 10 points including a pair of triples and a strong finish on a backdoor cut off a terrific pass by junior guard Justin Bassey. Meanwhile Pipkins made sure to keep UMass close with 18 first-half points. His 3-point shot was on display as he made two contested triples, as well as his ability to get into the paint with ease. In addition, he showed off a nice floater and two pull-up jumpers in the middle of the lane. Harvard took an 8-point lead, 39-31, to the locker room.
The Minutemen tried to make some noise early in the second half, but Harvard kept its composure and the lead. Inside the final 10 minutes, the hosts finally took the lead after a terrific offensive rebound by freshman guard Tre Wood, off a missed transition three by Pipkins. Wood preceded to make a baseline jumper to give the Minutemen their first lead of the night, 50-49. Justin Bassey and Curtis Cobb exchanged threes that kept the hosts in front. The two teams continued to exchange baskets for a while before a Rio Haskett triple and a Christian Juzang layup gave the visiting Crimson a 4-point advantage. That lead was extended to five after Lewis hit a tough hook shot over the top of UMass senior Raashan Holloway. Layups by Laurent and Pipkins kept the Minutemen close. Juzang then stepped up for the Crimson by nailing two free throws, as the visitors took a 3-point lead with 1.7 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession Pipkins attempted the half court shot that came up short.
Lewis had a terrific offensive game for his team and showed his strength multiple times when battling in the low post with Holloway. The forward showed a lot of his post-game repertoire, while finishing up and under layups and hook shots over the top of a very strong defender. Meanwhile, Pipkins scored more than half of the hosts’ points, but missed a few bunnies in the second half that made it difficult for his team to overcome.
Harvard’s game plan was very clear in this game. They allowed Pipkins to do his thing for most of the night, but down the stretch Harvard challenged Pipkins’ teammates to beat them. Harvard did not want to get beat by the best player on the floor. Only one other UMass player scored in double figures on the night and no UMass player other than those two scored more than eight points. It worked, and Harvard won. Pipkins attempted 23 of Massachusetts’ 59 shots and made as many field goals as the rest of his teammates (13). The Minutemen only made 7-of-20 threes. This contest marked the first time that Massachusetts was held below 50 percent shooting (44.1%). Whether this is an outlying shooting performance or not is yet to be determined.
The Crimson shot 28-of-58 from the field and made 8 out of 23 triples. The Crimson also converted on 10 of their 12 free throws. With the win, the Crimson improve to 2-1, while the Minutemen fall to 2-1.
This article was written by Nadav Boker, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout apprenticeship program. For information contact us and forward your resume.