Minutemen Cage Up The Crusaders, 83-76
Nov. 27, 2010
AMHERST, Mass. - After building a 24-point lead with 8:17 left in the game, UMass saw Holy Cross go on a 26-6 run to cut the lead to four in the closing two minutes before the Minutemen (6-0) held off the Crusaders (0-5), 83-76 on Saturday afternoon in the Minutemen's first game at the Curry Hicks Cage since 1993. Anthony Gurley led the way with 24 points as UMass is now 6-0 on season for the first time since 1995-96.
The victory extends UMass' winning streak at the Cage to 15 games, a streak with a 17-year gap between wins and began on Jan. 9, 1992.
Andrew Keister's layup with 29 seconds left on an in-bounds play made it a four-point game, 78-74, but Gurley and Sean Carter combined to go 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the closing seconds to secure the victory.
After leading by as many as 24 in the second half, UMass fell victim to an 11-0 Holy Cross run that cut the Minutemen's lead to 13, 70-57 with just over six minutes left in the game, and the lead further diminished as down the stretch. Andrew Beinert banked in a 3-pointer with 2:19 left that cut the Crusaders' deficit to six, 76-70, and a Keister layup at the 1:42 mark made it a four-point game, 76-72.
For the game, UMass shot 45 percent from the field, including 9-of-19 from 3-point range, while Holy Cross shot 48.1 percent. Free throws were aplenty, with UMass going 20-of-27 and Holy Cross going 22-of-31.
UMass' defensive pressure began to take its toll on Holy Cross early in the second half. The Minutemen outscored the Crusaders, 16-4 over a four-minute span between the 15:45 and 11:45 marks, when a Riley layup in transition forced a Holy Cross timeout with UMass ahead by 18, 60-42. Riley also added back-to-back 3-pointers in that run, while Sampson Carter and Terrell Vinson added old-fashioned 3-point plays.
The Cage was sent into a frenzy just over the midway point of the second half when Sean Carter had back-to-back dunks on fastbreaks that came off steals forced by the UMass defensive pressure. The first came off a Riley lob and the second Carter took in himself from midcourt to give UMass a 24-point lead, 70-46 and force a Holy Cross timeout with 8:06 to play.
Seven-straight points by UMass between the 5:41 and 4:57 marks of the first half, highlighted by a Gary Correia 3-pointer in corner off a baseline out-of-bounds play, gave UMass a 12-point lead, 35-23, its biggest of the opening half, but the Minutemen went scoreless over the final 4:57 as the Crusaders got six points back to give UMass a 35-29 lead at halftime.
UMass shot 37.9 percent in the opening half, including 4-for-9 from 3-point range and were led by Gurley's 14 points. The Crusaders shot 40 percent in the first half and were led by Cavataio's 11 points.
It took the Minutemen a little time to regain their shooting touch in their old home. After starting the game 1-for-5 from the field, the teams traded leads six times over the first eight minutes of the game until UMass went on a 11-0 run over a 2:15 period in the middle of the half to open a 10-point lead, 23-13. Riley hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the run and Gurley finished it with seven points in a row, capped off by a 3-point play at the 8:16 mark.
Devin Brown led Holy Cross with 18 points, including an 11-of-11 performance at the free throw line.
The Minutemen return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Hamden, Conn. to take on Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. Then on Saturday, Dec. 4, UMass will face Boston College in the Boston Tip-off Classic at the TD Garden at 6:30 p.m.
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