Men’s basketball: UMass rallies to beat La Salle for 1st road win

  • Rich Kelly and the UMass men's basketball team knocked off La Salle 77-71 on Wednesday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/26/2022 9:20:57 PM
Modified: 1/26/2022 9:19:42 PM

The UMass men’s basketball team erased a 16-point deficit in the second half to win its first road game of the season Wednesday, beating La Salle 77-71 at Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia, Pa.

Rich Kelly led the Minutemen with 21 points and six assists. Trent Buttrick contributed 16 points and three 3s, two in the second half.

UMass (9-10, 2-5 Atlantic 10) has won its past five games against the Explorers.

The Explorers’ Jack Clark dribbled looking for a potential tying layup in the game’s final 30 seconds, but he stepped out of bounds on the end line. UMass nearly turned the ball over on the inbound pass, but it eventually ping ponged to C.J. Kelly, who was fouled with 15 seconds to go. He made both to seal the final margin.

Rich Kelly found a streaking Javohn Garcia for a layup that put the Minutemen up 73-71 with 43 seconds to go.

Clark hit a step back jumper on the base line with 1:02 left to tie the game at 71 with 1:02 left.

La Salle outscored UMass by 17 over a seven-minute stretch wrapping around halftime. The Explorers hit 5-of-6 3s during that time and held the Minutemen to 2-of-8 from the field and forced three turnovers. They built their largest lead during that spell: 16 points with 17 minutes remaining after a Jhamir Brickus layup.

UMass responded with the next 13 points. Buttrick drained two 3s, Greg Jones made his one 3 per game and Rich Kelly added two free throws and a levitating fall away jumper to cut La Salle’s lead to 50-47 with 13:40 remaining.

Josh Nickleberry stopped the run with a free throw at 13:24, then La Salle pushed its advantage back to six.

Rich Kelly whittled it back to 3 with an outrageously deep 3 with 9:22 left, cutting the score to 59-56. He also cut it back to 1 on a fast break layup with 6:25 left after a Greg Jones steal in the post.

Then Rich Kelly bombed another 3 to put UMass ahead for the first time all second half 64-62 with 5:47 left. The Minutemen had held La Salle scoreless for the previous 1:44 to pull ahead.

That lead held for 4:45. The Explorers kept pace until  Clark tied it at 71 with 1:02 remaining, capping a 7-2 run.

The Minutemen trailed by 10 at halftime after Anwar Gill drained a 3 at the first period buzzer. UMass called a timeout with 36 seconds remaining to set up a chance to narrow the lead to two possessions, and Garcia dribbled the ball near half court before driving to the basket once the shot clock dwindled. He missed a layup in traffic, allowing the Explorers to take the final shot after a timeout.

UMass led 28-27 after Trent Buttrick hit a 3 with 3:55 to halftime. That capped a 7-2 run to give the Minutemen their first lead since 2-0. In between those, La Salle led by as many as nine.

After UMass went ahead, the Explorers outscored the Minutemen 15-4 in the final four minutes. They shot 5-of-7 from the floor and made 3-of-3 3s. La Salle’s six first-half 3s nearly matched their season average of 7.4 per contest.

UMass only shot 32.4 percent in the first half, 27.3 percent from 3 before halftime.

Four Minutemen reached double figures. Both Garcia and T.J. Weeks Jr. had 11 points. Weeks and C.J. Kelly grabbed 10 rebounds each.

The Minutemen were without starting point guard Noah Fernandes, who missed the game in concussion protocol after sustaining a hard collision against Saint Louis on Sunday.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.


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