UMass turns back AIC, 89-76

AMHERST — Some recent exhibition games for UMass basketball have been fraught with danger, and American International College did its share to keep Tuesday’s game contentious, but the Minutemen ended the first half on a 19-5 run and never lost the lead afterward in an 89-76 victory before 2,932 at the Mullins Center.

UMass opens its regular season Sunday at 3 p.m. against Boston College at the TD Garden in Boston, then comes back to the Mullins Center Tuesday at 11 a.m. to face Louisiana State.

“At times we looked like the team I’d like to be,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg. “I thought we played good defense in the first half and good offense in the second half. If we can kind of combine those two things, figure out some lineups and go from there, there were definitely some flashes where we looked like a good team.”

Sampson Carter led all scorers with 20 points and seven rebounds for the Minutemen, with Cady Lalanne adding 16 with eight rebounds and transfer guard Derrick Gordon 15 and six assists.

“I just used this game to get the jitters out,” said Gordon, a 6-3 sophomore who sat out last season after starting his college career at Western Kentucky. “We’ve got a huge game coming up Sunday, so this was really to mentally prepare myself for that.”

Chaz Williams, hampered by foul trouble, sat out much of the second half and finished with seven points. Trey Davis picked up the load in the backcourt in Williams’ absence with nine points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Bobby Harris and Spencer Braithwaite topped Division II AIC with 19 points apiece and Janek Schmidkunz dropped six 3-pointers for 18 points. Marcus Porter finished with 10.

Harris’ basket with 5:54 left in the first half put the Yellow Jackets up 21-19, but Gordon finished off a 3-point play and Lalanne worked inside for a dunk and layup for a quick 7-0 run. The Minutemen then finished with the last eight points of the half, with two dunks by Maxie Esho around a layup and jumper by Williams, to go to the locker room ahead 38-26.

Gordon had a steal and layup with 12:46 left in the game to put UMass up 56-41, before AIC hit back with a 10-2 run, with treys by Harris and Schmidkunz, to trail 58-51 with 9:10 to go. The Minutemen promptly ran off the next 12 points, including 3-pointers by Davis and freshman Demetrius Dyson. Their lead peaked at 20, 75-55, before the Yellow Jackets managed to cut it back to nine points in the last 90 seconds.

Of the other UMass newcomers, Dyson had six points and Clyde Santee and Seth Berger two each.

“We were up 18 to 20 and subbed in the young kids that had never seen a press before,” said Kellogg. “They made it a little hairy there. We’re still trying to find a couple of guys who can make shots. We did a nice enough job to get everybody minutes.”

The Minutemen shot 51 percent from the floor but only 3-of-19 from 3-point range, and managed 20-of-32 at the foul line. The rebounding margin of 50-34 was substantial, but UMass also turned the ball over 17 times. AIC was held to 37 percent shooting but filled it up from three with 12 makes in 34 tries.

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