Men's Basketball

UMass Grinds Out 79-55 Win Over Central Connecticut State

Tony Gaffney dunks over a Blue Devil defender.

Tony Gaffney dunks over a Blue Devil defender.

Dec. 22, 2007

Box Score |  Quotes |  Notes  | Video Highlights 

AMHERST, Mass. - Riding its strongest defensive effort of the season, the UMass men's basketball team extended their win streak to four games with a 79-55 win over Central Connecticut State on Saturday night. After holding a 34-33 halftime lead, the Minutemen outscored the Blue Devils, 45-22 in the second half to pull away with the victory. Five Minutemen reached double figures in points. UMass is back in action one week from today as it hosts Boston University next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

The 55 points allowed was the fewest by a UMass opponent this season. Its previous low was in its last game on Dec. 15 vs. Toledo, giving up 61.

The Minutemen finished with 18 blocks on the night, the most blocks since Jan. 3, 1995 when they had 20 vs. West Virginia. Out of the 18, freshman Papa Lo chipped in with a career-high six.

UMass outrebounded their opponent for the first time this season, 46-35.

Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with 15 points and Etienne Brower had 13. Gary Forbes and Max Groebe had 11 each while Dante Milligan added 10. Groebe was hot from behind the arc, hitting 3-of-4 three pointers, all in the second half.

CCSU's leading scorer, Tristan Blackwood, was held to only five points. Joe Seymore led the way for the Blue Devils with 11.

After taking a 34-33 halftime advantage into the locker room, the Minutemen slowly pulled away in the second. With 12:06 remaining, Brower took a feed off a CCSU turnover. He made a move to the basket and hit the layup and was fouled. He made the free throw to up UMass' lead to 51-40.

After a strong first half effort, Lo continued to give UMass a spark off the bench. With 10:05 left, he made a block that sprung the Minutemen on a fast break. Chris Lowe was fouled, and hit the first free throw. After missing the second, Lo got the offensive rebound, passed back to Lowe, who hit the three to make it 55-40.

UMass continued to pull away. With 6:58 remaining, CCSU hit a free throw to make it 59-41 UMass. It ended the Minutemen's 12-0 run, and it was the Blue Devils' first point in 5:50.

The Minutemen continued their run, extending their lead to 64-41, improving their run to 17-1 UMass. At 4:51, the Blue Devils' Aaron Hall made a layup to give them their first field goal in 8:56.

In the first half, the Blue Devils came out strong by scoring the first five points of the game. Harris got UMass on the board with a three-pointer with 17:40 remaining. He continued his hot start a few minutes later by hitting another three with 14:38 left.

On Lo's first defensive possession of the game, he had a blocked shot with 13:14 left in the half. He continued by making his most impressive block with 12:13 remaining, the start of two consecutive blocked shots, as Tony Gaffney followed with another rejection.

Gaffney brought the 3,895 fans to their feet with an emphatic dunk over a CCSU defender to make it 19-16 in favor of the Minutemen with 10:50 remaining until halftime.

Trailing 33-31 with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Blue Devils were holding for the final shot. After a miss by Shemik Thompson, Gaffney got the rebound and was fouled with less than one second remaining. After making the first free throw, he missed the second, but Brower made the tip in to give UMass the slim 34-33 halftime advantage.

Harris led UMass with nine points at the half. Milligan added a strong eight of his own. Lo finished the first half with three emphatic blocks.

Blackwood was held to only two points at the half.




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