Basketball Out Battles Rams To 80-75 Win In Front Of Sell Out Crowd
Feb. 21, 2014
AMHERST, Mass. - The game lived up to the hype and the early season billings between two of the Atlantic 10 Conference's top teams this season. A match-up that had been circled on calendars and that had been sold-out for weeks left the fans just as out of breath as the players at the end of a 40-minute sprint. To the joy of the 9,493 fans in the Mullins Center, the UMass basketball team came away with a thrilling 80-75 win over VCU as P.A.I.N. officially met HAVOC this year.
The game featured 12 lead changes and four ties with neither team leading by double-figures.
Chaz Williams led UMass (21-5, 8-4 A-10) with 20 points and five assists. Derek Gordon scored 16 points, while Trey Davis was huge in the scoring column with 13 points, but more importantly, in breaking the Rams pressure. Cady Lalanne had 10 points and nine rebounds to round out the Minutemen's offensive leaders.
VCU (20-7, 8-4 A-10) was led by Treveon Graham's 19 points and eight rebounds. Juvonte Reddic added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Melvin Johnson had 12 points. Rob Brandenberg rounded out the leaders with 10 points.
The first half was marked by a frenetic tempo with both teams trading baskets and slim leads early and often.
Reddic put the Rams ahead 19-18 on a tip-in with 9:27 to go until halftime - a lead the Rams did not relinquish for the rest of the stanza.
A quick 7-to-0 run just over three minutes later stretched the VCU lead to 30-21 at the 5:23 mark on a Melvin Johnson three pointer.
UMass twice pulled the game back within two points after that run, but a Graham three-pointer with 1:34 to go put the Rams back up by five, 39-34. The Minutemen had opportunities to pull closer in the final minute, but a missed jumper and a pair of missed free throws kept the VCU advantage at five for the intermission.
The Minutemen began chipping away at the lead as the second half started. Mo Alie-Cox's put-back extended VCU's lead to six, 46-40 at the 16:43 mark, but a lay-up from Gordon and a dunk from Esho pulled UMass back within two just 30 seconds later.
Brandenberg hit a three-pointer for the Rams to again stretch the lead to five points momentarily taking momentum from the sell-out crowd.
UMass regrouped thanks to a Putney steal which he took down the court for an uncontested highlight dunk sparking a 6-to-0 run giving the Minutemen their first lead since the midway point of the first half, 50-49, at the 13:47 mark.
It again looked as if a timely VCU three pointer, this time from JeQuan Lewis, would quell the run, but the Minutemen used a jumper from Davis, a pair of free throws from Carter and a transition lay-up from Williams to match their largest lead of the game 56-52.
After Williams' lay-up, the Rams went on a nine-point run to regain a 61-56 lead forcing a UMass timeout with 8:46 to go.
UMass cut that lead back to two on a Davis lay-up at the 7:25 mark, but VCU once again received timely outside shooting as Graham hit a three-pointer to push the lead back to five.
As they had all game, the Minutemen continued to fight back with a 6-to-0 run capped by a pair of Gordon free throws giving UMass back the lead at 68-67 with 4:57 to go.
VCU tied the game hitting one-of-two free throws on the next possession. UMass turned the ball over at the other end of the court, but Davis intercepted a break-out pass and drove in for a lay-up to give the Minutemen back the lead, 70-68.
Counter-punches continued to be thrown down the stretch with both teams trading baskets. Each time UMass scored to extend the lead, the Rams came back with another.
Davis gave the Minutemen breathing room with a jumper to go up 74-71 with 1:32 left in the game. It looked as if Graham might have reached into the bag one more time with a three-point look from the right wing, but it hit off the right side of the rim and was tipped out of bounds.
After a review, the refs determined the ball stayed with UMass. The Rams nearly intercepted the inbounds pass, but Williams volleyball-spiked the loose ball over to Gordon across center court.
Davis calmly hit a pair of free throws, but Graham came back down for a lay-up and a VCU timeout with the score 76-73 with 23 seconds to go.
UMass turned the ball over on the next in-bounds play with Raphiael Putney being forced to foul. Melvin Johnson hit a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game, 76-75, with 19 seconds left.
The Minutemen managed to get the ball into Williams' hands and after being fouled he toed the line hitting two free throws of his own.
He then picked Briante Weber's pocket on the other end to force another VCU foul where he hit another two free throws with 8.7 seconds on the clock.
Reddic was fouled back on the other end, but missed both free throws with UMass up 80-75. Lalanne hauled in the rebound for the final three ticks to run off the clock giving the Minutemen the win.
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