South Carolina holds off challenge from UMass
Freshman forward Justin Minaya scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half as South Carolina rebuffed a stiff challenge from upset-minded Massachusetts for a 76-70 victory Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
Freshman forward Felipe Haase recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double as the Gamecocks (6-2) won for the fourth time in their last five games. Junior forward Chris Silva and junior guard Hassani Gravett added 14 points apiece for South Carolina, which was 17 of 29 from the free-throw line but went 5-for-6 in the final minute — 4-for-4 by Gravett.
Sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins scored 25 points for the Minutemen (3-5), who lost their fifth straight game. Freshman guard Carl Pierre added 12 points while senior guard C.J. Anderson had eight assists for UMass.
The Minutemen made 7 of 12 from 3-point range en route to a 35-34 halftime lead. UMass, which trailed by as many as 12 points before the break, took its first lead when Pierre drilled a 3 to make it 35-33 with 41.6 seconds left until intermission.
Pipkins, the Minutemen’s leading scorer at 18.3 points per game who totaled only 14 in his previous two contests, netted 13 in the first half.
South Carolina trailed 48-43 before a basket by Haase and a 3-pointer by senior guard Frank Booker (nine points) ignited a 15-5 run.
UMass trimmed the deficit to 58-56 before a pair of thunderous dunks by Silva extended the lead to 62-56 with 5:04 remaining. The Minutemen got within 72-70 on Pierre’s 3-pointer with 19.4 seconds left before Gravett sealed it with four free throws.