Carl Pierre hit a short jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining to give UMass (10-17; 3-11 A-10) its first lead of the game and the 80-79 win over Saint Joseph’s (11-16; 4-10 A-10) at the Mullins Center.
The Hawks inbounded at half court with 2.3 seconds to go, but Charlie Brown’s three-point attempt as time expired was off the mark.
Pierre’s basket was UMass’ only advantage as Saint Joseph’s held a double-figure lead from late in the first half until nine minutes remaining in the game. With SJU leading, 68-54, UMass went on a 13-2 run that ended in back-to-back threes by Pierre, to pull the Minutemen within 70-67 at 7:07.
Baskets by Chris Clover and Taylor Funk pushed SJU’s lead back up to eight, 75-67, with five minutes to play, but UMass capitalized on three missed three-point attempts by the Hawks and rattled off six straight points to cut it to 75-73 with 2:47 to go.
Lamarr Kimble hit a pair of free throws at 2:25 to push SJU’s lead to four, and two more again at :27, to give the Hawks a 79-75 lead. But Pierre connected on a three-pointer with 17 seconds left to pull UMass within, 79-78. A Hawk turnover at 12.8 seconds set up Pierre’s game winner.
Saint Joseph’s had six players score double figures for the first time all season. led by Chris Clover with 19 points. Kimble scored 14 points in his first action since January 12 after missing 10 games with a fractured hand. Lorenzo Edwards and Jared Bynum had 12 points apiece while Brown and Funk each scored 11.
Jonathan Laurent had a game-high 24 points for UMass with Pierre adding 21.
Saint Joseph’s largest lead of the game was 57-36 just 30 seconds into the second half.
Saint Joseph’s had its best shooting half of the season in the first, connecting on season-highs of 66.7 percent (18-for-27) from the field and 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from three-point range.
Conversely in the second half, SJU hit only 28.6 percent from the floor while UMass connected on 59 percent.
“A tough one to swallow. They shot 59 percent in the second half and we didn’t dig our feet in to do anything to prevent the ball from going in. They had 23 assists and we had seven turnovers in the second half,” said SJU coach Phil Martelli. “I have to do more for them to figure out a way so they don’t think something is going to happen. That’s the look in some of our eyes – that something bad’s going to happen.”
The Hawks were clicking from the start, hitting five of their first six shots to take an early 11-4 lead. They extended it to 23-12 on 8-of-9 shooting with a three-pointer from Bynum at 13:02.
SJU went on a 13-5 run over the final four minutes of the first half, helped by two three-pointers from Clover and one from Funk, to take a 54-37 lead into intermission.
The Hawks will play their third straight road game on Wednesday when they visit Fordham for a 9 p.m. start on ESPN+.