Minutemen need OT to get past Providence

UMass No.3 Chaz Williams, attempts to throw up a reverse shot in the lane over Providence No.33 Carson Desrosier in the 1st half.
photo by J. Anthony Roberts

UMass No.3 Chaz Williams, attempts to throw up a reverse shot in the lane over Providence No.33 Carson Desrosier in the 1st half. photo by J. Anthony Roberts

AMHERST — Saturday’s game succeeded in proving two things: a UMass-Providence matchup once again came down to the final possession, and the Minutemen can win a game without the services of their best player.

Derrick Gordon flipped in the offensive rebound of Trey Davis’ missed shot with 1.1 seconds left in overtime, propelling 23rd-ranked UMass to a 69-67 victory over the Friars before the first sellout crowd at the Mullins Center in just over seven years.

The Minutemen improved to 11-1 and weathered the loss of standout guard Chaz Williams, who fouled out with 1:36 left in regulation after a 10-point, 10-assist day. Providence (10-3) scored the last nine points of regulation to force a tie, thanks to a driving layup by Bryce Cotton with 10.9 seconds to go. Cotton then dropped in a 3-pointer with 36.5 seconds left in overtime to knot the game at 67-67, setting the stage for UMass’ winning possession.

With three timeouts still in his pocket, UMass coach Derek Kellogg chose not to call one, leaving it up to the Minutemen within the run of play. Davis dribbled out the clock, started to drive and launched a left-wing 19-footer that hit the front rim, falling to Gordon in the lane just inside the foul line. His 12-foot one-hander rattled in for a 69-67 lead, marking the second straight year that UMass had defeated Providence at or near the buzzer. Terrell Vinson turned the trick with a tip-in as time expired on Nov. 15, 2012, to give the Minutemen a 77-75 win over the Friars at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament.

UMass then withstood PC’s three-quarter court inbound pass and a 3-point try from LaDontae Henton just in front of the Friars’ bench that struck the top of the backboard as time ran out.

“It just happened to bounce my way,” said Gordon. “I looked at it as another floater, I always do. I just made sure I didn’t leave it short and got it up in the air.”

Gordon, who knocked in another runner in the lane earlier in overtime, finished with eight points. Williams was one of three Minutemen to record double-doubles. Cady Lalanne led UMass with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Sampson Carter had 12 points and a game-high 12 boards. Davis also scored 12 and Maxie Esho came off the bench to hit 5-of-6 shots for 11 points.

“For the fans to come out and really support this team tonight is what helped us win the game,” said Kellogg. “A sold-out arena, and the crowd really stayed in it even when it looked like it could go either way. Our guys played well enough to win and made some good plays down the stretch. We were fortunate that Derrick Gordon has a good nose for the ball and put it back in.”

The capacity crowd of 9,493 was UMass’ first home sellout since Dec. 2, 2006 against Boston College and the 60th sellout in the 21-season history of the Mullins Center.

Cotton threw in a game-high 24 points to lead Providence. Tyler Harris added 16 points and nine rebounds, Henton scored 13 and Kadeem Batts had nine for the Friars.

“Very frustrating, but I was very happy with the way my team was able to battle back on the road,” said PC coach Ed Cooley. “They just got the right bounce at the right moment. When we play next year, just put one second on the clock and see what happens.”

Providence jumped to an early 15-8 lead before UMass ran off seven in a row to tie, getting a 3-pointer by Davis and a layup and dunk by Esho. The Minutemen took their first lead of the half at 18-17 on another deep ball by Davis, then bumped it to three at 26-23 when Lalanne scored with 3:24 to play. The Friars rallied to go ahead 29-28 on Josh Fortune’s jumper at the 23-second mark, and UMass couldn’t get off a shot before the halftime buzzer. Williams, averaging a team-high 15.7 points per game entering Saturday, was shut out in the first half, despite handing out six assists.

The Minutemen then broke out a 15-4 run to begin the second half, behind six points apiece from Carter and Lalanne, and Davis capped it with a jumper for a 43-33 lead with 12:50 left. Providence pulled within 50-46 before treys by Carter and Williams bumped the lead back to 10 at 56-46 with 4:01 to go.

Williams’ layup with 3:04 remaining made it a 59-50 game, but Henton answered with the Friars’ first 3-pointer of the game after 11 misses to start. Cotton was then fouled by Williams at the 1:36 mark, sending Williams to the bench and Cotton to the line for a pair of makes.

UMass’ Raphiael Putney missed the front end of a one-and-one and Batts pulled PC to within 59-57 with 1:13 left, followed by Cotton’s tying basket and Batts’ block of Lalanne to force the extra five minutes.

“It was hard to do because I wasn’t out there and couldn’t contribute on the floor,” said Williams of his late-game disqualification. “But it felt good. I know my teammates and I have the same amount of confidence in them as I do in myself. Everybody gave me a head nod like they were ready to finish the game, and that’s what they did.”

Lalanne got the Minutemen started in overtime with a pair of free throws, then Gordon sank a runner and Davis made two at the line for a 65-61 lead. Providence answered with a foul shot by Fortune and two by Harris to make it 65-64, then Esho tipped in Gordon’s miss to put UMass up 67-64 with 47 seconds to play.

Both teams shot only 39 percent from the floor and UMass was 5-of-12 from the foul line in regulation, before making 4-of-6 in overtime for a 9-of-18 total. The Minutemen held a 45-36 rebounding edge.

UMass hosts Miami of Ohio (4-6) Saturday at 7 p.m. in its final game before the start of Atlantic 10 Conference play.

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