Amid the chaos, Trey Davis didn't think twice.
Raphael Putney celebrates during UMass' 73-68 win over St. Bonaventure/Maria Uminski for the Daily Collegian
The Massachusetts men's basketball guard had reason to be hesitant. Mired in a cold shooting day, he was 2-for-10 from the field. He hadn't made any of his four 3-point attempts.
But as Sampson Carter retrieved an offensive rebound off a Raphiael Putney 3-point miss, the Minutemen trailing by two with 11:15 to go, Davis stood waiting, stationed behind the 3-point line in front of the UMass bench. Carter found him, Davis immediately rose up and buried the go-ahead triple.
“I know the type of player he is,” Carter said. “If he misses one, the next one is going in. He was open and he knocked it down.”
The shot completed a seemingly miraculous UMass rally. The Minutemen trailed St. Bonaventure by 13 with 9:49 to go, but overcame 30 minutes of woefully inconsistent and uninspired play to come away with a 73-68 win over the Bonnies in front of a deafening crowd of 6,634 at the Mullins Center on Saturday afternoon.
Putney led the way with 17 points, Cady Lalanne had 16 and Carter scored 11 for the 19th-ranked Minutemen (14-1, 2-0 Atlantic 10), which will now hit the road for a three-game road trip starting Wednesday at George Mason.
Lalanne started the rally, making two free throws with 8:47 to go. On the ensuing UMass possession, Chaz Williams connected with Putney for an alley-oop, then Lalanne made a layup to make it a seven-point game and force Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt to call timeout with 7:32 to go.
“That was a huge momentum play,” Williams said of the alley-oop. “Raph told me he was going to go. I just told him to be ready to finish and that's what he did.”
Putney's tip-in with 3:27 to go cut the Minutemen's deficit to four, and after Dion Wright finished an alley-oop on the other end, Carter aggressively drove to the rim and completed an and-one to make it a one-possession game with 2:42 remaining.
After Youssou Ndoye made one of two free throws with 2:13 to go, UMass went on a 9-0 run to complete the game. Davis' layup and go-ahead 3-pointer gave his team a one-point lead, and the Minutemen stringed together back-to-back defensive stops and enough free throws to preserve the win.
UMass coach Derek Kellogg never thought the 13-point deficit with 9:49 to go was too much for his team to overcome.
“Not with 9:49. We've been on the other end of it,” he said. “There have been a few times in the last few years when we've made some runs late.
“Everybody doesn't believe it, but you do play on emotion a little bit, and if you see the ball go through the basket that pumps you up some.”
The Minutemen looked like a completely different team before their game-ending 26-8 run.
They looked lifeless and struggled mightily to put the ball in the hoop. Both teams suffered from sloppiness, careless turnovers and poor shooting, but it was UMass that looked worse. In the first half alone, the Minutemen committed 13 turnovers and shot 7-for-23 from the field. No player had more than one made field goal after 20 minutes.
The Bonnies (11-5, 1-1 A-10) led by 10 with 35 seconds left in the half before Carter cut it to seven on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The basket seemingly gave UMass some momentum heading into intermission.
“We needed a bucket bad before the first half ended, and I was happy to see it go through the net,” Carter said.
But the Minutemen failed to seize momentum, which was a theme for much of the opening to the second half. Any time it looked like they were about to make a game-shifting run, SBU responded. A Carter 3 made it an eight-point game with 15:53 to go, but the Bonnies came up with a 7-2 run. UMass stormed back with four straight points, but SBU opened its lead back up to 14.
Finally – and somehow – the Minutemen broke through.
“We're going to try to stay out of that,” Kellogg said of his team falling behind by so much. “That was not a good situation to be in. It was like the Boston College game where we were down nine in the second half. But you could feel it sometimes. The crowd starts easing into it, the guys start playing with a little more pep and we get a little tougher defensively.
“We're probably not quite good enough to just turn it on and off though.”
Have a UMass basketball question for Steve Hewitt? Send him a tweet @steve_hewitt or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and it could appear in an upcoming mailbag.
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