Men's Basketball

Men's Basketball Defeats La Salle 69-66 In Overtime

Jeff Salovski made his first career start on Saturday at La Salle.

Jeff Salovski made his first career start on Saturday at La Salle.

Feb. 19, 2005

Box Score |  Quotes |  Notes

PHILADELPHIA - UMass improves to 4-0 this season in overtime games and secure a .500 season for the first time since 1999-00 as the Minutemen defeated La Salle 69-66 in Philadelphia. Maurice Maxwell (Philadephia, Pa.) scored 17 points to lead Massachusetts and the UMass defense held La Salle's Steve Smith, the league's leading scorer, to just 12 points on 2-of-11 shooting.

In the overtime period, sophomore Rashaun Freeman (Schenectady, N.Y.) scored the first four points and sophomore Jeff Viggiano (Suffield, Conn.) canned five of six free throws in the wanning moments of the game as UMass (14-9, 7-4 A-10) held on for the win.

The win ties the Minutemen with the Final Four advancing 1995-96 team as the only two squads to go 4-0 in overtime games. The 1997-98 team played the most overtime games posting a 3-2 record.

The win also snapped a two-game win streak for La Salle in the series and was the first UMass win in Philadelphia since Jan. 25, 2000 (62-58).

The Minutemen never trailed in the overtime period and were only tied once. Senior Chris Chadwick's (Union, N.J.) only basket of the game gave UMass a four-point lead, 64-60, before Viggiano hit five straight free throws. Freeman hit scored twice in the paint - part of his 16 points - to get UMass rolling in the fourth overtime game of the season.

Maxwell and sophomore Stephane Lasme (Libreville, Gabon) were huge for the Minutemen who advanced to 9-1 this season in games determined by five points or less. Maxwell netted a team-high 17 points, while Lasme tied his career-high with 13 boards adding eight points and four big blocked shots.



Lasme also drew the charge of defending Steven Smith - the league's leading scorer at 21.0 points per game. Lasme held Smith to just 2-of-11 shooting for 12 total points and forced four turnovers. Smith did go 8-for-9 from the charity stripe leading the Explorers who connected on 14-of-15 free throws in the game.

UMass, guided in part by Lasme, controlled the glass 42-31 which ties as the second-best rebounding margin of the season (+13 vs. Yale, +11 vs. Rider, +11 vs. St. Bonaventure).

It was a good start for the Minutemen as they hit 13-for-27 first half field goals (48.1 percent) to take a 32-24 halftime lead. A 9-0 run and a 9-2 run in the period, each capped by three-pointers from Maxwell and Viggiano respectively, put UMass up by as many as 14 points (26-12) with 8:32 to play.

After a 30-second timeout following Viggiano's three, the Explorers whittled the lead to just six points (30-24) as Darnell Harris canned a pair of treys and Tabby Cunningham hit a jumper in the paint and a lay-up in transition with 2:18 in the half.

Lasme converted a lay-up in the paint with 1:42 to go, part of 15 second-chance points for UMass in the half, to give the halftime score.

La Salle (8-16, 4-9 A-10) exploded in the first five minutes of the second half going on an 18-to-5 run to take a 52-37 lead with 14:48 to play. The Explorers hit four of their 10 three-pointers in the game during that stretch including the second for Harris who matched Maxwell's four.

The Minutemen made a run of their own late in the period and Maxwell's fourth trey of the game gave UMass a 56-55 lead with 2:21 to go. Freeman hit a lay-up on the next possession to push the lead to three points, 58-55.

Using another 30-second timeout, La Salle set-up Jermaine Thomas for a three-pointer which he nailed with 59 seconds to play to tie the game at 58 each.

Chadwick miss a jumper for UMass and Cunningham's three-pointer as time expired fell short to force the overtime.

UMass took control early of the bonus period as Freeman scored the first four points and Viggiano tallied the last five consecutive. The Minutemen never trailed in OT and were only tied once 60-60 on a Mike St. John tip-in - the only La Salle field goal of the frame.

Thomas had the opportunity to tie the game again, but forced up a contested three-pointer which fell off mark.

Along with Maxwell and Freeman, sophomore Art Bowers (Wilmington, Del.) and Viggiano added 10 points to lead the UMass charge. Chadwick scored four points, including his only field goal of the game in overtime, and dished out four assists.

Harris and Thomas each scored 18 points to lead La Salle, but Smith was held in check by Lasme to just 12 points - eight on free throws. St. John led the Explorers on the glass with 13 rebounds.

Massachusetts returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 23 when the Minutemen host A-10 rival Rhode Island with a 7:00 p.m. tip-off. The game will be televised in Rhode Island only on the Cox 3 Cable Network. Wednesday's game is 'Red Sox Appreciation Day' as the World Series Trophy will be on hand in the Mullins Center. One lucky fan wearing Boston Red Sox apparel will win the opportunity to take their picture at halftime with the trophy.

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