Sean Carter was the lone member of the Class of 2012, the first player to spend four years on the bench alongside head coach Derek Kellogg and the lone student-athlete to be honored before Saturday's contest against Rhode Island. The former transfer, turned fifth-year senior saved his best for last, as Carter finished with a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead UMass to their first 20 win season under Kellogg.
The Minutemen (20-10, 9-7 Atlantic 10) used 14 3-pointers and huge days from Carter and sophomore guard Jesse Carter to outlast Rhode Island (7-24, 4-12 A10) 89-83 in the team's regular season finale. While Carter was hot hitting 7-of-11 shots and 8-of-11 free throw attempts, Morgan was near perfect. The Philadelphia native hit all nine of his field goal attempts, including six 3-pointers and hit 1-of-2 free throw attempts on his way to 25 points and seven rebounds.
With the win UMass earned the eight seed in the Atlantic 10, due to losing tiebreakers with with LaSalle, St. Joseph's and Dayton, and will host ninth-seed Duquesne at a time and date to be announced.
Point guard Chaz Williams had a strong performance of his own, as he finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Minutemen who closed the season 14-1 in home games. Williams also added a game-high five steals, as UMass turned 15 Rams turnovers into 23 points.
Junior forward Orion Outerbridge continue to abuse UMass' defense with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Outebridge poured in 29 points the first time these two teams met, as Rhode Island earned the upset with an 81-78 overtime victory in Kingston.
Freshmen forward Jonathan Holton was one of four Rhode Island players to finish in double-digits, as he earned a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Guards T.J. Buchanan (13 points) and Billy Barron (11 points) joined Holton and Outerbridge in double figures.
While Rhode Island controlled the glass (47-37) and shot slightly better from the field, they couldn't slow down the Minutemen from behind the arc. UMass hit 14-of-30 (46.7 percent) attempts from the field, compared to just 31 percent (8-of-21) for the Rams.
UMass held a slight edge throughout the contest but struggled to shake the pesky Rams. After heading into the half with a 44-43 lead, the Minutemen used an 18-8 run to open up their largest lead of the game (62-51) with 15:15 to go on a Morgan 3-pointer. Rhode Island whittled away at the deficit and tied the game at 66-66 with nine minutes remaining but Carter proved to be too much.
On consecutive possesions, Carter finished a layup and was fouled to earn the 3-point play and then tallied a second layup for five points in 36 seconds. Overall, Carter scored 10 of his 12 second half points in the final nine minutes and got significant help from Morgan and Williams to close out the win.
With the victory, the Minutemen earned their first 20 win season since Travis Ford's final season (2007-08) on the bench in Amherst.
|Final - 3.3.2012||1||2||Total|
|Rhode Island Rams||43||40||83|