Massachusetts Advances In A-10 Tourney With 65-61 Win Over Rhode Island
March 14, 2014
BROOKLYN - No. 6 seed Massachusetts overcame its worst shooting performance of the season and closed the game on a 19-6 run to defeat No. 11 Rhode Island 65-61 in the First Round of the Atlantic 10 Championship at the Barclays Center Thursday.
UMass (24-7) advances to play No. 3 George Washington (23-7) on Friday at 9 p.m.
Maxie Esho scored a team-high 15 off the bench for the Minutemen. Chaz Williams had 11 points, four steals and three assists, and Derrick Gordon added 10 - on 6-of-7 from the free throw line - and two steals.
UMass shot just 32 percent and was 3-for-15 from outside, but made 28-of-36 from the line, continuing a trend that has seen the team make 73 percent over the last six games. The team is a 67 percent group on the year.
The Minutemen also had a season-best 13 steals, which tied for the fifth-most in an A-10 tourney game.
Rhode Island (14-18) got 24 from Xavier Munford but just six on 3-of-10 in the second half.
URI led 29-27 before scoring eight-straight points, including six off three UMass turnovers, to extend its lead to 37-27 before a pair of Esho free throws in the final minute closed the margin to eight going into the half.
The Rams got the lead to 11 early in the second half before the Minutemen closed to within six on three occasions, but couldn't get the momentum needed to get any closer. Then the defense started clicking and URI missed some free throws, opening the door and allowing UMass to go on its run over the final 9:51. During the run, Rhode Island went 15-consecutive possessions without scoring.