After holding a 21-point halftime lead, UMass (7-3) watched their lead dwindle to as few as one with under a minute to go; only two Pirates missed 3-pointers and a few free throws down the stretch, helped Derek Kellogg's squad squeak out a victory on one of their longest road trips of the season. Despite a season-high 24 turnovers, the Minutemen survived behind their advantage on the boards and from the free throw line.
Freddie Riley broke out from his early-season struggles with a team-high 14 points on 4-for-5 shooting from behind the arc. Point guard Chaz Williams added 10 points, four assists and four steals but also committed a season-high 10 turnovers. Senior Sean Carter finished with nine points and seven rebounds helping UMass win the first game in the series amongst to the two schools.
East Carolina senior Darrius Morrow led the Pirates with 13 points and chipped in seven rebounds before fouling out. Junior Miguel Paul finished with 10 points, six steals and four assists but struggled shooting. Paul hit just 4-of-13 shots and missed all five of his free throws, as the team hit just 9-of-23 (39 percent) shots from the charity stripe.
Rebounding was a key factor in the game's final moments. With UMass leading 59-58 with 40 seconds to play, the Minutemen grabbed the final four rebounds of the game to take a 42-37 advantage and the game.
UMass opened the game on an 11-4 run before the first media timeout and continued to extend their lead behind some hot shooting. Riley scored all 14 of his points in the first half as the Minutemen extended their lead to as many as 22 behind 50 percent shooting from the field. The game appeared to be all but over with the Pirates struggling to do anything offensively but turned it around out of the break.
The Pirates jumped out to a 13-2 run within the first 3:30 of the second half as they started the comeback behind six straight points from Morrow. UMass maintained a 10-point lead for the 10 minutes before finally making their comeback bid.
In a 2:31 span, the Pirates went on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to one, before UMass closed out the game by hitting four of its final eight free throws.
The Minutemen return home Friday for the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase when they take on Siena at 7 p.m.