UMass 72, Quinnipiac 67: Umass Knocks Off I-91 Rivals

UMass used an 18-0 run to begin the second half to grab a double-digit lead and had just enough to hold on against Quinnipiac (5-5). After trailing 40-36 late in the first half, Chaz Williams knocked down what looked to be an innocuous, running lay-in to end the first half to spark the beginning of the run.

Despite getting nothing from a stagnant offense down the stretch, UMass (9-3) held on 72-67, for their third victory in as many years against the Bobcats. With the win, UMass stayed perfect at home moving to 5-0.

Williams led the Minutemen with 14 points and seven rebounds but struggled shooting the ball. The point guard hit just 5-of-15 field goals and the normally reliable free throw shooter (79 percent) missed five free throw attempts, including three in the final minute.

Forwards Terrell Vinson and Raphiael Putney both came up big for the Minutemen finishing in double figures. Vinson grabbed eight rebounds and Putney pulled down five rebounds and hit two free throws to ice the game with under 10 seconds to go.

Quinnipiac received 22 points from both Ike Azotam and James Johnson but no other Bobcats finished with more than five points. Azotam hit 10-of-17 shots and pulled down 13 rebounds while Johnson knocked down five 3-pointers and added four assists. The pair had 28 of their 44 points in the first half, with Johnson forced to sit for long stretches of the second half with four fouls.

Rebounding was a key to the game for both teams, with each squad ranked among the top-12 in the nation and it was a tight struggle. Quinnipiac pulled down five more rebounds (47-42), but also turned the ball over 16 times.

The first half was a back-and-forth battle with neither team leading by more than six points. Azotam and Johnson dominated for the Bobcats, while Umass relied on their bench to keep them in the game. Quinnipiac looked to be pulling away with a six-point advantage in the final minute of the half, before Williams turned the corner and banked the ball off the backboard, to cut the deficit to four with two seconds remaining. The Bobcats final heave fell well short and all the momentum the Bobcats had heading into the halftime was quickly erased.

UMass opened the second half on an 18-0 run, behind three 3-pointers and the team's patented transition game. With Williams pushing the ball, the team added four layups and quicjly opened up a 54-50 lead. An Azotam free throw ended the run but UMass would grab their largest lead of the game at 56-41 when Cady Lalanne converted on a 3-point play with 14:37 remaining.

The Minutemen held a comfortable double digit lead for the next six minutes as the Bobcats slowly chipped away at the deficit. A Johnson jumper with 4:27 remaining cut the deficit to 69-63 but the two teams would go cold for the next three minutes. UMass continued to settle for long 3-pointers as they desperately tried to let the clock run out while Quinnipiac just struggled to hit shots.

An Azotam layup with 58 seconds remaining cut the deficit to as few as three but the Bobcats would fail to get any closer. Javorn Farrell came up with a key rebound on the defensive end before calling timeout and Putney knocked down two free throws with eight seconds remaining to clinch the victory.

UMass will finish off their first semester schedule with a home contest Thursday agaisnt Davidson at 7 p.m.

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