The road woes for UMass have subsided, at least for a day. Chaz Williams exploded for 11 of the team’s final 18 points, and Raphiael Putney stretched all of his elastic-like limbs as far as they could go with a game-saving block in the final minute as the Minutemen came back from a seven-point deficit in the final 8:35 to defeat the University of Rhode Island, 73-68, last night at the Ryan Center. Williams had a team-high 21 points and seven assists to put an end to the three-game road-losing streak that knocked the Minutemen from both national Top 25 polls. Putney added 11 points, and Derrick Gordon had 11 points and nine rebounds to move the Minutemen to 19-4 on the season (6-3 Atlantic 10). “We are a desperation team,” Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg said. “We are getting closer to playing the way we did when we were really desperate early and having something to prove. I thought we played desperate in spurts tonight, and now we are putting that together. We are going to start doing that closer to 40 (minutes). It’s hard to do that for a full 40 all the time, but we are getting closer.” Times were especially desperate for the Minutemen late in the second half, with E.C Matthews (24 points) and Xavier Munford (19 points) heating up for the Rams. Gordon fouled Munford shooting a 3-pointer, and he connected on all three of his free throws to put URI up 62-55 with 8:35 left. The Rams (11-13, 2-7) scored just two field goals and hit one free throw for the rest of the game, while Williams went on one of the patented runs that have turned him into a favorite for the A-10 Player of the Year award. Williams was able to get to the lane and make difficult shots in the paint, and when he needed his teammates, he whipped a no-look pass that somehow got through traffic to Maxie Esho to cut the deficit to 62-60. “We just didn’t want to lose the game, so I was just trying to do anything in my power and my will to try to bring the team back,” Williams said. Gordon scored off the glass to put the Minutemen up 68-65, and then Putney made the defensive play of the game on a chase-down block. T.J. Buchanan was barreling down the court after a UMass turnover. Putney stayed with the play and stretched out his left arm to swat Buchanan at the rim. Williams picked up the rebound and hit his two free throws at the other end to extend the lead to 70-65 with 31 seconds remaining.
Minutemen block Rams’ upset bid
Boston Herald | Feb 11