Milligan Chops Down Lumberjacks In 80-60 NIT First Round Win
March 18, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. - Senior Dante Milligan poured in a career-high 24 points as he led UMass to a 80-60 victory over Stephen F. Austin, in the NIT First Round at the Mullins Center on Tuesday night. The Minutemen (22-10) advance to the second round of the NIT for the second year in a row, where they will face the winner of the Akron/Florida State game on Saturday at 12 Noon. The game will air on ESPN.
UMass won an NIT game for the second year in a row, marking the first time UMass has won NIT games in back-to-back seasons ever. The last time UMass won back-to-back postseason games came in the 1994-95 and 1995-96 season when they won games in the NCAA Tournament.
Milligan had an all-around effort in addition to his scoring prowess as he had nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. Senior Gary Forbes, the A-10 Player of the Year, had 19 points while Etienne Brower added eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Ricky Harris tallied 16 and Chris Lowe had seven and seven assists.
The Southland Conference Player of the Year Josh Alexander led the Lumberjacks with 21.
UMass scored the most points against SFA of any Lumberjack opponent all season. The Jacks came into the game as the nation's second-best defensive team, allowing just 55.2 points per game. Lamar scored 75 against SFA back on Jan. 17.
The Minutemen surged ahead of SFA with a 25-5 run early in the second half as UMass led 60-39 with 9:33 left in the game on a Harris fastbreak 3-pointer.
UMass reached the 55-point mark (the amount SFA allowed per game entering the NIT) with a Forbes lay-up with 11:30 left in the game. That gave UMass a 55-39 lead.
After SFA cut the UMass lead to one point (35-34), UMass scored the next 12 points including a Lowe 3-point play, Brower 3-pointer and Lowe lay-up to extend UMass' advantage to 47-34 with 15:10 left in the second half.
SFA came out firing in the second half as Alexander's 3-pointer just a minute into the action brought the Lumberjacks to within three at 33-30. Matt Kingsley's lay-up with 17:55 left brought SFA to within one at 35-34.
The Minutemen led 33-25 at halftime headed by Milligan's 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
UMass capped a 15-4 run with Milligan's lay-up with 6:40 left in the first to make it 28-16. That followed Harris' fastbreak 3-pointer to give the Minutemen a 26-16 lead.
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