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UMass Survives Upset Scare, Beats URI 70-67

Thursday, February 27, 2014

 

Chaz Williams scored 16 points and dished out 6 assists, Trey Davis added 13 points off the bench, and UMass outrebounded URI 41-28 en route a 70-67 victory Wednesday night in Amherst.

UMass shot a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line in the last 4 minutes to clinch the victory. URI’s last gasp came when Xavier Munford lost the ball driving to the basket in the final 5 seconds.

The win moves the Minutemen to 9-4 in the Atlantic 10 and 22-5 overall this season. URI falls to 12-17 overall and 3-11 in conference play.

The Rams let this one off the hook early after failing to capitalize on a very slow start by the Minutemen. UMass missed their first 8 shots en route a 29% shooting effort in the first half. URI built a 21-8 lead before being outscored 23-9 over the final 8 minutes of the first half, and went into the break trailing by a point, 31-30.

URI shot 52% for the half but trailed because of a poor showing on the boards. UMass outrebounded URI 25-17 in the first half, including 14 offensive rebounds for the Minutemen. Despite a poor shooting half, UMass attempted 38 shots as opposed to 25 for URI in the opening half, using quantity over quality to take the lead.

The Minutemen came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and quickly built a 9 point lead after an 8-0 run to start the half. URI battled back, chipping away at the lead and finally regaining the advantage when Jarelle Reischel’s free throw with 6:05 to go gave the Rams a 55-54 lead.

At that point the two teams traded baskets (and some trash talk that led to a double technical) and the action went back and forth the rest of the way.

Williams made a pair of free throws to put UMass up 68-65 with 19 seconds to play. URI couldn’t find an open 3 point attempt on their next possession and Munford rumbled down the lane and was met by UMass big man Cady Lalanne. There was some contact on the play, but no foul was called, much to the dismay of URI Head Coach Dan Hurley.

Davis made 2 free throws with 3 seconds to go, and E.C. Matthews made an uncontested layup at the buzzer to pull the Rams within 3.

UMass finished with a huge edge in rebounding and also outscored URI 19-4 on bench points. The Minutemen shot just 39% from the floor but made the plays they needed to make to avoid the upset.

A quartet of Rams finished in double figures in scoring. Gilvydas Biruta led the way with 17 points, followed by Munford with 16, Matthews with 14, and Hassan Martin with 13. URI shot 50% from the floor but their rebounding woes and mediocrity at the free throw line (61%, 11-18) were too much to overcome.

UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg was relieved after the win, and offered some praise to URI’s effort and talent in his postgame interview with the UMass broadcast team.

“That’s a very good Rhode Island team, much better than their record indicates,” Kellogg said. “We were just fortunate to come away with the win.”

URI next plays Saturday at 2 p.m. at home against Richmond.
 

 

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