Cunningham on shot by Pipkins: ‘Definitely lucky’

Dayton forward and UMass guard both from Chicago

Dayton Flyers forward Josh Cunningham goes way back with Massachusetts star Luwane Pipkins. They played AAU basketball together in Chicago and faced each other as rivals in high school basketball.

Cunningham wasn’t surprised to see Pipkins hit the go-ahead 3-pointer — a desperation heave from at least five or six steps behind the line — with 55 seconds left in the second overtime. He knows what kind of player Pipkins is. The shot helped carry UMass to an 86-82 victory Saturday at the Mullins Center.

“It’s crazy; it was definitely lucky,” Cunningham said. “Him hitting that shot turned the game around big time. If he didn’t hit that shot, we would have had more control. Once he hit that shot, it changed the tempo of the game in their favor.”

So close: Dayton point guard Jalen Crutcher scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He also had eight assists and only one turnover. He missed a short jump shot at the buzzer in regulation with the game tied at 69.

“I told him, ‘Man, it was right on,’ ” Cunningham said. “He usually makes it. It is what it is at the end of the day. We can’t blame that one.”

Timely dunk: UMass ran an out-of-bounds play to perfection to take a 77-75 lead with 40 seconds left in the first overtime. C.J. Anderson threw an alley-oop pass to Unique McClean for a dunk.

“You try to keep a couple things in your back pocket in those types of situations where maybe you haven’t shown them all year but you still have them,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “I have a playcard that has special situations that I can go to in situations like that.”

Dayton tied the game on the next possession with two free throws by Cunningham with 24 seconds to play. Pipkins then missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Positive stat: Dayton committed 11 turnovers. The Flyers had 15 in their previous game, a 75-65 loss at Saint Louis.

Around the A-10: No. 22 Rhode Island (19-3, 11-0) won 81-68 at Virginia Commonwealth on Friday. Rhode Island has won 14 in a row. It has won 19 straight A-10 games. That streak began last season. VCU’s three-game winning streak ended.

Davidson (12-9, 7-3) won 87-58 at George Washington (9-14, 2-8), which has lost four straight. La Salle (10-13, 4-6) beat St. Joseph’s (9-13, 4-6) at La Salle. The Hawks have lost four in a row.

Next game: Dayton plays Duquesne at 7 p.m. Wednesday at UD Arena. The Dukes (15-8, 6-4) beat the Flyers 70-62 in the A-10 opener on Dec. 30 in Pittsburgh. Duquesne entered the weekend tied for fourth with VCU.

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