UMass routs Rams, 90-52
AMHERST — The first seven points of the game may have belonged to Fordham, but after that, UMass beat the Rams seven ways from Sunday.
Eleven players played and all 11 scored for the Minutemen, who brushed off Fordham’s quick start with a 20-2 run and later ran off 17 unanswered points to begin the second half in a 90-52 throttling of the Rams in Atlantic 10 Conference basketball before a sellout throng of 9,493 at the Mullins Center.
Guards Chaz Williams (18 points, eight assists) and Trey Davis (13 points, nine assists) ran the UMass attack with precision as the Minutemen shot 52 percent from the floor, made 13-of-27 3-pointers — four by Williams, three each for Davis and Raphiael Putney — and outrebounded Fordham 43-32. Putney had 13 points and Maxie Esho came off the bench for 10 with six rebounds.
Sunday’s blowout allowed head coach Derek Kellogg to heed the call from some fans pushing for more playing time for the UMass freshmen. The kids didn’t disappoint, with Clyde Santee netting seven points and Demetrius Dyson and Seth Berger four apiece. That trio saw a combined 44 minutes of playing time, after totaling a mere 52 minutes through the season’s first 18 games.
“Other than the start, that was a nice complete game for us,” said Kellogg. “The guys paid attention to detail and really locked in defensively, and it was nice to see the ball go in the basket. The freshmen have been practicing really hard and giving our top eight (players) a good run. To see them come in and duplicate it during the game, it lends to more confidence and more guys I think we can go to.”
“When you have the crowd we had, it’s tough not to come and play and compete. You’ve got all those students, and the fans cheering for you and waiting to get into the game, I think that’s a huge boost. That’s the sixth man we’ve been looking for, for a long time.”
The ranking for the currently No. 13 Minutemen (17-2, 4-1 A-10) figures to take a hit after their midweek loss at Richmond, but Sunday allowed UMass the opportunity to convincingly shake off that defeat and post its largest victory margin since a 39-point home win over La Salle, 102-63, on Feb. 28, 2007.
It didn’t begin that way as Fordham (8-11, 1-5 A-10) opened with a 3-pointer by freshman scoring whiz Jon Severe, a conventional 3-point play by Chris Whitehead and a free throw from Ryan Rhoomes for a 7-0 Rams lead. Before Esho’s basket cracked the scoring column 3:16 into the action, UMass missed its first four shots and turned the ball over four times.
That led to an 8-0 run and the Minutemen’s first lead at 8-7 on a dunk by Tyler Bergantino. Travion Leonard scored inside for Fordham, but UMass promptly ran off 12 more in a row, including a pair of treys by Williams, to lead 20-9 with just over 11 minutes to play.
Back-to-back long balls by Putney and Williams bumped the lead to 16 points at 30-14 and the margin would stay at 16 by the intermission, 40-24.
Putney then began the second half by hitting from deep, then made two free throws, and Sampson Carter and Williams each followed with 3-pointers to force a Fordham timeout with 18:16 to go. The pause didn’t slow down the Minutemen any, with six more points from Cady Lalanne, Carter and Derrick Gordon to make it 57-24 with 15:28 on the clock. All that remained was to get UMass’ reserves some substantial playing time, and the lead never fell below 30 points thereafter.
“We wanted to come out and feel like we could get our swagger back, especially coming off a loss,” said Williams. “We’re trying to go ahead and play our game. The games we’ve been playing close, we weren’t playing UMass basketball and to our full potential. Now we’re just trying to get there.”
Whitehead led Fordham with 13 points and Branden Frazier scored 12. Severe, leading the nation’s freshmen and all Atlantic 10 players with 20.9 points per game entering Sunday, managed only seven on 2-of-14 shooting.
Sunday marked the Minutemen’s only home game within a stretch of six games. UMass next hits the road for games at St. Bonaventure Wednesday at 7 p.m. and at Saint Joseph’s Saturday at 6 p.m.
Notes: Williams’ 18 points Sunday moved him into 11th place on UMass’ all-time career scoring list with 1,440 points, 12 ahead of early-1980s standout Horace Neysmith. ... The man who holds down the No. 7 spot on that list, Tony Barbee, was on hand Sunday for his induction into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame. Barbee, currently the head coach at Auburn, flew from his team’s game at Arkansas Saturday night. He scored 1,643 points for the Minutemen between 1989 and 1993. Barbee was joined at courtside by his UMass teammate and No. 9 all-time scorer, Harper Williams (1,534 points), now an administrative assistant on the Auburn coaching staff.