UMass used another big run (17-4) to open the second half and held on to defeat Davidson 73-65, to earn their biggest win of the year. Despite an off-night from Chaz Williams, the Minutemen stayed perfect at home (6-0) and extended their winning streak to four games entering the short holiday break.
Five UMass (10-3) players finished in double-digit scoring with Jesse Morgan leading the way with 14 points, three assists and three rebounds. Redshirt freshmen Maxie Esho had a career-day, knocking down all four of his shots for 12 points, to go along with four rebounds and steals.
"I thought Maxie was great," head coach Derek Kellogg said. "He changed the complexion of the game with his athleticism. He was unbelievable in the press and a couple of the young fellows, him and Cady [Lalanne], as they develop is something that is going to really help the team."
Sean Carter, UMass' lone senior, had a huge game with four points, a season-high 10 rebounds and tied his career-high with four blocks in the win.
De'Mon Brooks led a Davidson squad that was coming off a victory over #12 Kansas Monday. Brooks recorded 22 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (7-4). Tyler Kalinoski was the only other Davidson player to finish in double figures, with 12 points and three rebounds.
The first half was marked by a series of bursts, with Davidson carrying out a 12-2 run, before the Minutemen answered with a 9-0 run of their own to tie the game at 26. Davidson finished the half with a 9-3 spurt, as the Minutemen struggled to slow down the hot-shooting Wildcats. They hit 43 percent of their shots in the first half, before UMass put down the clamps in the second half to spur the comeback.
"We did a good job [defensively]," Kellogg said. "I thought in the first half we gave them four open threes that they knocked down. That was 12 easy points but it was their screening and moving, that we hadn't had to face too much of all year. And I thought we did a good job of forcing a little bit more tempo in the second half and we did some good things."
With Davidson leading 39-34 early in the second half, UMass went on a 12-0 run sparked by Esho. The forward knocked down a 3-pointer and a free throw to begin the run and finished it with a layup to give the Minutemen a seven-point lead. While Davidson would get right back into the game, Umass had an answer for the Wildcats every time, including an 11-2 run to put the game away.
Williams was the instigator behind the final rally despite strugging in the first half and sitting for over four minutes in the middle of the second half. The point guard hit a layup, two free throws and added an assist to ice the game for the Minutemen over a two and a half minute span.
Despite being out-rebounded by Davidson, UMass came away with just their third victory over an above .500 team, as they forced 19 Wildcat turnovers and received 30 points off the bench.
The Minutemen will be off for a week before they take on Central Connecticut next Friday night at 7 p.m.