With 6:03 to play in the second half UMass trailed 78-73 and things looked bleak for the host team. Duquesne had just tied their largest lead of the half behind a 5-0 run and held the Minutemen without a field goal for four minutes but Terrell Vinson, Javorn Farrell and Chaz Williams were not about to end their season without one more road trip.
The trio scored 17 of the Minutemen's final 19 points, including a 9-0 run that helped UMass advance to Friday's Quarterfinals in New Jersey with a 92-83 win over the Dukes. All three players finished in double figures as UMass earned just their second Atlantic 10 Tournament victory in the past 10 seasons. Friday the Minutemen will take on top-seeded Temple at Noon in the first Quarterfinal game of the day.
Farrell was the biggest surprise of the day, as the junior forward finished with 20 points, a career-high and game-high nine assists and added seven rebounds for head coach Derek Kellogg. Kellogg described Farrell's perfomance as the best of his career, less than a week after the junior didn't play a single minute in the team's overtime loss at Temple.
Williams led the Minutemen in his first postseason game with the program, as the point guard had a team-high 21 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds and four assists.The third member of the trio had been quiet for most of the night, but Vinson hit a key three to get his UMass teammates going late in the game. Vinson chipped in with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and sophomores Raphiael Putney (20 points) and Jesse Morgan (10 points) joined the trio in double-figures.
Duquesne had their only quintet of double-digit scorers as the Dukes nearly pulled off their second postseason victory in Amherst in four years. Guards Eric Evans and Jerry Jones tied for the Duquesne lead with 16 points apiece, while senior forward B.J. Monteiro had 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds before fouling out with two minutes to play.
UMass and Duquesne were red-hot throughout the game, as UMass shot 50.8 percent (30-of-59) and Duquesne shot 44.3% (31-of-70) and had been even better before a late game dry spell. The two teams combined for 20 3-pointers on the night and neither team really seemed to own the momentum until the final two minutes.
After 34 minutes of back-and-forth unbelievable offense, UMass faced the five-point deficit and needed some kind of spark. That's when Vinson sparked his teammates offensively and more importantly defensively. The Baltimore native hit a key triple to end a four-minute field goal drought, which turned the tide of the game.
After Vinson's 3-pointer, Duquesne knocked down just one field goal in the final six minutes, as the Minutemen went on a 19-5 run to close the game. The Minutemen keyed on the Vinson 3-pointer for a 9-0 run behind a layup from Farrell that was followed by four straight free throws to give UMass the 82-78 lead.
Duquesne would cut the deficit to one on a a Sean Johnson 3-pointer but Williams responded with a layup off a Farell pass and the Minutemen never looked back.
The game wasn't without controversy, as the referees assessed six technical fouls, including one against the UMass fan section for throwing a water bottle onto the floor at Monteiro.