BOSTON — Chaz Williams received the ball, noticed he was all by himself as he crossed half-court, took a few more dribbles and pulled up for yet another 3-pointer.
The UMass men's basketball team opened its season on the right foot with a victory over Boston College at TD Garden. (Photo courtesy Maria Uminski, Massachusetts Daily Collegian)
Williams went 5-for-5 from long range, scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half and Cady Lalanne added a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds as the Massachusetts men's basketball team cruised to an 86-73 season-opening victory over Boston College on Sunday at TD Garden in front of 6,037.
The Minutemen trailed by as much as nine with 16:44 remaining in the second half, but fueled by Sampson Carter, who finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds, they roared back, outscoring the Eagles 33-9 over the next nine minutes as they took complete control.
Carter, who had missed a wide-open layup near the end of the first half that would have brought UMass to within two, said he got down on himself for the miscue at halftime, but used it to will his way toward a strong start to the second half.
After BC opened the second half on a 9-2 run, the senior forward, noticing a potentially big win slipping away from his team, reeled it back in. He responded with seven straight points by himself, including a breakaway dunk to finish things off and bring the Minutemen back to within two.
“Like he said, after that layup, he was in the locker room beating himself up,” Williams said. “But we all told him, 'You're good, bro, you're going to get it right. And the next couple of plays out in the second half, it was him that was making plays, so he sparked the run and we all kind of finished it.”
From there, UMass stepped on the gas, retaking the lead on a Williams trey to make it 50-48 with 13:19 to go. The Minutemen then went on a 15-5 spurt, capped by back-to-back Williams 3-pointers, the first as he was fouled by Eagles star Olivier Hanlan, the second a back-breaking 3 in transition in front of the UMass bench as they took a 12-point lead and ignited a Garden crowd that was decidedly pro-UMass.
“I was just shooting with confidence,” Williams said. “This has been a long offseason, just working out on my jump shot. Guys did a great job of finding me. I gotta thank my teammates for finding me when I was open, and I just made my shots.”
The Minutemen took advantage of a size edge in the frontcourt as Lalanne dominated inside. He corralled eight offensive rebounds in the game that he converted to 14 points, and UMass finished with 30 second chance points to BC's 11 and outscored the Eagles in the paint, 52-26.
Earlier this week, BC coach Steve Donahue reached out to AIC coach Art Luptowski to get a scouting report on Lalanne, who scored 16 points and pulled down eight boards against the Yellow Jackets last Tuesday. Luptowski had a simple message for Donahue, telling him he thought Lalanne is a pro prospect.
But it didn't matter, as Lalanne torched the Eagles.
“He kind of bull-rushed us, took the ball of us like he should and put it in the basket,” Donahue said. “I think he has great desire. I just know he can play as hard as heck, and he smelled blood and took advantage of it, and I give him great credit for that.”
“To see him dominate like that, I expect it from him,” Carter said. “I know what he can do and he knows what I can do, so there aren't any surprises.”
The Minutemen now have a quick turnaround as they return to the Mullins Center for their home opener against LSU on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 as part of the program's annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.