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UMass 97, Central Connecticut 65: Minutemen Dominate Blue Devils To Finish Out 2011

UMass entered the Mullins Center Friday night looking to exact a little revenge after a 29-point road loss to Central Connecticut State last year, they got more than a little in the end. It was 16-4 when Blue Devils head coach Howie Dickenman called his first timeout and it would only get worse, as the Minutemen went on numerous runs in front of the home crowd.

The Minutemen (11-3) finished 2011 with one of their most complete games of the season, as they cruised past Central Connecticut State 97-65 at the Mullins Center for the team's fifth-straight victory.

Chaz Williams and Raphiael Puntey led the way for the Minutemen with 18 points apiece as the Minutemen earned their 11th victory of the season, a full 20 days before they managed the feat a season ago. Williams jumped on the Blue Devils early with 12 first half points, while Putney added 13 in the second half to help make the game into a laugher.

Five Minutemen in total finished in double figures, as Freddie Riley (14 points), Cady LaLanne (12 points) and Terrell Vinson (10 points) joined Putney and Williams in double figures. LaLanne and Putney led the Minutemen with eight rebounds each and point guard Jesse Morgan finished with a team-high seven assists.

Robby Patecek led Central Connecticut with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Leading scorer Ken Horton was held to 16 points, six below his season average, while Shelton Mickell finished with 11 points. The Blue Devils dropped their fifth straight contest after they attempted to beat the Minutemen at their own game, unfortunately it only worked for the first two minutes.

UMass knocked down 54 percent of their shots and hit 12-of-29 (41 percent) attempts from behind the arc, as they improved to 7-0 at home. The Blue Devils struggled mightily from the field, hitting just 34 percent of their attempts and just 1-of-15 3-point attempts. An even bigger difference in the contest was the rebounding margin-UMass pulled down 48 boards, to just 25 for the Blue Devils.

Dickenman should have known it was going to be a rough night when he found his team trailing before the opening tip. Central Connecticut was called for a technical foul for dunking during warmups and Chaz Williams hit one of two free throws to give the Minutemen a lead. The Blue Devils grabbed a quick 4-3 lead but the Minutemen went on a 13-0 run, the first of many such runs, to jump out to a 16-4 lead.

It was 47-32 at halftime, after the Minutemen finished the session on a 10-4 run. Things kept getting worse for the Blue Devils, as UMass jumped out to 24-point lead five minutes into the second half behind a 14-5 run. The half was highlighted by an 18-0 UMass run and a rare appearance from red-shirt freshmen Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy played the final 6:30 of the second half and managed six points (tripling his season total) and two rebounds.

UMass fell just short of the 100-point total, which they still have yet to accomplish under head coach Derek Kellogg in four years. The last time the Minutemen reached the century mark was in November of 2007 when they posted 107 points in a win over Syracuse.

They did manage to accomplish one season-high: most made field goals (38) and tied their mark for most assists in a game (23). It wasn't all good, the Minutemen fell just shy of their season-high for turnovers with 23.

With the win UMass improved finished their non-conference slate and improved their record by three wins from a year ago (8-6 to 11-3).

Derek Kellogg's squad will be back in action next Thursday night when they begin Atlantic 10 play against Fordham.