It was probably a little bit closer than it should have been at times, and a little bit sloppier than they would have hoped, but Massachusetts men's basketball coach Derek Kellogg and his team will certainly take the end result.
Cady Lalanne scored 13 points and added 15 rebounds in UMass' 85-69 victory over Youngstown State on Sunday. (Photo courtesy Nicole Evangelista, Massachusetts Daily Collegian)
The Minutemen overcame 19 turnovers – including 6 from point guard Chaz Williams – and a feisty Youngstown State team that seemed to never go away in an 85-69 victory over the Penguins in front of 4,231 on Sunday afternoon at the Mullins Center.
Williams led the way with 19 points and 11 assists, Sampson Carter finished with 19 points, Raphiael Putney scored 17 and Cady Lalanne added 13 points and 15 rebounds for UMass (3-0), which will now set its sights on the Charleston Classic later this week, when it will play three games in four days.
Sunday's 85-point effort marked the first time a UMass team has scored 80 or more points in each of its first three games since the 1991-92 season.
“We'll take the win,” Kellogg said. “I like that we're 3-0. I do like that. I really like that we're 3-0.”
Youngstown State star guard Kendrick Perry finished with just 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting, and the Penguins, who came into Sunday shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range, went just 5-of-26 from long range, but still hung with the Minutemen for stretches.
UMass opened up a 15-point lead early in the second half, but fueled by Marcus Keene, who finished with a team-high 20 points off the bench, and Bobby Hain, Youngstown went on a 13-4 run to cut its deficit to 49-43 with 13:36 to go and forced Kellogg to call timeout.
The Minutemen responded, though. And after Carter hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 11:39 to go that brought UMass back to life after looking lifeless for a stretch of time, the Penguins never got closer than eight as the Minutemen ran away with it. Putney put an exclamation point on the win with 25 seconds left as he cut through the Youngstown press and ultimately dunked on a helpless Josh Chojnacki with a one-handed posterization.
“I thought we could have maybe stepped down (on the gas) a little bit earlier at different times in the games and we let them come back,” Kellogg said. “We still have a ways to go, but I would say we're more mature than we might have been last year and the year before, where you're up eight and all of a sudden you're down one before you step on the gas. And I thought these guys realized let's not let it get below six or eight or whatever it got to.
“The ending was just, we made some plays. They were kind of pressing a little bit, and we rebounded and pushed it and got some easy baskets.”
Despite a strong finish, UMass played sloppily for the majority of the contest. The Minutemen turned the ball over 12 times in the opening 20 minutes, which included travels and ill-advised passes.
“I just thought we turned the ball over way too much for a team that wasn't pressing,” Kellogg said. “Nineteen turnovers meant that we were sloppy. Travels and plays that were just uncharacteristic for an older, more mature team.”
Lalanne tied a career-high by playing 35 minutes after backup center Tyler Bergantino, who played three minutes, was limited. Kellogg said Bergantino tweaked his knee on Friday and wasn't supposed to go on Sunday.
“He should be OK for Charleston,” Kellogg said.
The Minutemen will take on Nebraska at 12:30 p.m. Thursday to kick off the Charleston Classic.