Midway through the first half Stanford looked like they were going to run away from UMass and right into the National Invitational Tournament Championship Game. The Cardinal grabbed a 26-14 lead at the 11:39 mark behind a 10-0 run and the Minutemen looked incapable of slowing down Stanford's big men inside. Then UMass responded with the counterpunch.
Stanford leads UMass 36-33 at halftime at Madison Square Garden behind 11 points and five rebounds from senior forward Josh Owens.
UMass overcame a slow start to get right back into the game behind an 11-1 run of their own and some big 3-pointers. Redshirt sophomore Raphiael Putney leads the Minutemen with eight points and two assists and the big men knocked down two key threes to get UMass back into the game. Point guard Chaz Williams added seven points and an assist but picked up his third foul late in the first half on a charge.
Stanford has five players with five points or more, with sophomore forward Josh Huestis as the second leading scorer with six points and a team-high six rebounds off the bench.
Neither team shot well in the first half, with UMass knocking down 12-of-33 (36.4 percent) of their shots and Stanford hitting 33.3 percent of their shots (12-of-36). The battle of the paint has been intriguing, with Stanford owning a 21-17 rebounding advantage, but UMass holding a 7-1 advantage in blocks.
UMass had a chance to tie the game at the half, when Javorn Farrell stole an inbounds pass with less than a second to go but his three fell off the mark. Tuesday's winner will play the winner of (1) Washington and (6) Minnesota.