Sophomore center Cady Lalanne picked the opportune time for perhaps the best game of his career as a member of the Massachusetts men’s basketball team.
Lalanne helped snap UMass’ three-game losing streak with career highs in points (22), rebounds (14) and minutes (35) in the Minutemen’s 76-66 win over Dayton on Saturday in front of 6,096 at the Mullins Center.
“It was nice to see Cady solidify the middle for us, especially on the boards,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “After a three-game losing streak, that was kind of what the doctor ordered.”
Lalanne shot 7-for-10 from the field, 8-for-9 from the free throw line and committed zero turnovers. His nine free throw attempts were a career high, and his seven made field goals tied a career high. He started his second game in a row, and recorded his fifth double-double of the season.
Dayton coach Archie Miller called Lalanne “probably the best big guy we’ve played all season.”
Lalanne dominated the majority of the game, but another Minuteman was responsible for solidifying the victory.
Senior forward Terrell Vinson (13 points) made two 3-pointers in the final two minutes to help secure the win.
His first came with 1 minute and 51 seconds remaining and UMass up one. Junior point guard Chaz Williams penetrated and kicked to an open Vinson on the right wing to extend the lead to seven. On the next possession, Williams drove baseline, kicked to the corner and the ball eventually found its way to Vinson, who, again, buried a right-wing 3-pointer for the dagger.
“It extended the lead to the point where it was going to be kind of unrecoverable at that point in time,” Miller said. “He pretty much put the nail in the coffin.”
Before the 3-pointers, Vinson had shot just 2-for-9 from the field.
“I think that was the first time they had left me open all game, [and] if you’re open you should hit them,” Vinson said.
Leading scorers and dueling point guards Kevin Dillard (15 points per game) and Williams (16.1 points per game) held each other in check. Williams, coming off a 27-point performance against St. Bonaventure, scored nine points, and attempted only six shots. He registered nine assists.
“I thought Chaz did a great job of facilitating and running the team today,” Kellogg said. “He had constant control and command of the team and didn’t have to score to do it.”
Dillard scored eight points, had six assists and missed four more shots than Williams.
“Coming into games when I’m playing against great point guards like Dillard, I try to focus my whole game on the defensive side of the ball,” Williams said. “I think I did a pretty good job on him today.”
Freddie Riley tossed in 12 points – his fifth straight game in double figures – but it was his assist on Vinson’s second 3-pointer that had Kellogg excited.
“What I really liked is Freddie passed up a shot and got [Vinson] that last open three,” Kellogg said. “And that’s probably not something that would have happened in the past.”
UMass (17-9, 7-6 Atlantic 10) eemerged from a tightly contested first half with a 37-31 lead at halftime. Dayton quickly erased that lead to start the second, and the final 20 minutes proceeded in back-and-forth fashion. The game featured nine ties and six lead changes.
With 5:12 left and the score tied at 60, Williams made a layup to put the Minutemen ahead. UMass would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the contest.
“At least now I think we have a positive energy and vibe moving forward,” Kellogg said. “It’s tough when you’re on a losing streak and you’re a coach or a player you need to win to at least rejuvenate yourself, and that’s what I think we did today.”
Vee Sanford led the Flyers with 14 points, and added four steals and four assists. Josh Benson and Jalen Robinson came off the bench to score 12 and 10, respectively. Miller started Benson and Robinson in the second half in an attempt to invigorate his team and slow Lalanne, who had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half.
“We needed a jolt, we needed some help in the frontcourt,” Miller said. “The bottom line was getting Josh and Jalen an opportunity to get going in the second half was our best chance.”
UMass moves on to play fifth-place Xavier on the road next Saturday at 2 p.m.
Jackson Alexander can be reached at email@example.com.