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May 18, 2016

Minutemen snap losing streak

Players from the Charm City stepped up big Wednesday night in the City of Brotherly Love.

Behind huge performances from Baltimore natives Ricky Harris and Terrell Vinson, the Massachusetts basketball team defeated Saint Joseph’s, 87-80, snapping its five-game losing streak while winning its first Atlantic 10 road game of the season.

“I thought we did a nice job of sharing the basketball,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “You know, if a guy got hot, we did a great job of really moving it and getting them involved, and we had some guys step up tonight.”

The Minutemen (8-12-2-4 A-10) used a 15-2 second half run to get away from the Hawks (8-12, 2-4 A-10), who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of Harris and Riley, who combined for 39 points and 17 rebounds in the game.

Along with Harris (23 points, career-high eight rebounds) and Vinson (16 points, nine rebounds), redshirt junior Anthony Gurley added 10 points, while freshman guard Freddie Riley netted 14, and the Minutemen had a season-best 11 scorers in the game.

“I thought Ricky played a great game, Freddie Riley made some shots in the second half, and I think Terrell was very, very good,” Kellogg said.

UMass continued to dominate opponents on the glass, outrebounding SJU 44-31, as redshirt sophomore Sean Carter added nine rebounds and six points. The Minutemen also found their shot, going 47.6 percent from the field and 8-of-21 from 3-point range. Riley went 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, while the rest of the team hit just four other 3-pointers, including Harris, who was 1-for-3. Harris went 8-for-10 from the line, while the Minutemen went 19-of-25 from the charity stripe.

The Hawks were led by senior guard Garrett Williamson, who had 16 points, 10 assists and three blocks, while junior forward Idris Hilliard had 14 points and six rebounds.

Midway through the first half, the Minutemen built a lead of 12 points several times, but the Hawks stormed back, going on a 17-4 run to regain the lead early on in the second half, 42-41, with a three-point play from Darrin Govens.

Later on, Riley hit a 3-pointer, but the Hawks came back with a run of their own, scoring seven straight points, going up 56-54. UMass again answered with a pair of 3-pointers from Riley and a Carter dunk, putting the Minutemen up by seven points.

The Hawks came back, cutting the deficit to four, but missed a number of opportunities at the foul line, while the Minutemen sunk 12-of-14 free throw shots late in the game to secure the A-10 road contest.

“We were able to withstand their runs because we actually shared the ball, played good defense, and rebounded,” Kellogg said. “They made some good runs in the first half when they knocked down 3’s.”

SJU was 4-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, but were just 2-of-10 in the second half.

The Minutemen return to the Mullins Center for the first time in more than a week to take on Charlotte, Saturday at 6 p.m. This will be the second-straight week that UMass will be featured on ESPNU.

“We needed this win bad, and now we need to get the win on Saturday and put two wins together and start rolling,” Vinson said.

David Brinch can be reached at dbrinch@student.umass.edu.

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