Williams, UMass Cruise Past Xavier, 80-73
Feb. 21, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. - Chaz Williams scored a career-high 29 points and dished out nine assists to lead Massachusetts past Xavier, 80-73, at the Mullins Center Tuesday night.
Williams had a career night from outside, making 6-of-8 to help UMass (19-8, 8-5 Atlantic 10) snap a two-game losing skid overall and a six-game streak to Xavier. The sophomore standout narrowly missed his third-consecutive 10-assist game.
UMass shot 44 percent and was 16-of-18 from the free throw line, making its final 13 in the contest. The Minutemen also made 10 3-pointers, the seventh time this season they have reached double figures.
Xavier (17-10, 8-5) was led by Dezmine Wells' 19 points and three steals. Mark Lyons had 15 while Kenny Frease added 12 off the bench. The Musketeers committed 20 turnovers, which the Minutemen converted into 19 points.
With Xavier holding a 21-16 lead midway through the first half, UMass got hot from outside, making four 3-pointers in a three-minute stretch as the Minutemen outscored Xavier 14-2 and stake a 30-23 lead.
UMass closed the half with a Raphiael Putney dunk and a trey by Williams to head into the break ahead 41-29.
The Minutemen had opened the game shooting just 7-of-24 before closing the frame 9-of-11, including 4-of-5 from outside.
The second half saw UMass extend its lead to 20 points eight minutes in as a Freddie Riley layup capped a 12-5 run. He finished with 12 points.
But Xavier fought back, trimming the margin to eight on two occasions, the last being a Lyons triple with 4:19 to play.
The Minutemen extended their lead to double-digits with a 9-4 run. Xavier made a couple of threes late to get within five before Williams made three of his seven free throws to account for the final margin.
Putney finished with 13 points, six rebounds and tied his career high with four blocks.
The crowd of 6,632 fed off the energy of the game but also got energized with the appearance of former UMass football standout Victor Cruz. The New York Giants wideout returned to campus for the first time since helping the Giants win Super Bowl XLVI.
UMass will hit the road for a pair of crucial games beginning Saturday at Dayton and next Wednesday at Temple. Tip-off at the UD Arena is set for 6 p.m.
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