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Williams, Lalanne offer UMass a stabilizing force in second half vs. BC

BOSTON – For Chaz Williams, Sunday’s game against Boston College was about gaining recognition. It offered a chance to earn notoriety in front of 6,037 TD Garden fans taking in two of the top teams in the region.

“We’re still not respected in the New England area so this is our chance and our testimony to drive up there and do so,” Williams said before practice on Thursday.

Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

And with UMass’ chances waning after a sloppy start to the second half – it trailed 45-36 with 16 minutes, 44 seconds remaining – Williams took it upon himself to grab that respect.

He scored 15 points in the second half, hitting all four 3-pointers he attempted in the final 20 minutes to spark a Minutemen run in which they outscored the Eagles 50-28 over the final 16:44 of the game on their way to an 86-73 win.

UMass finally found its transition game in the second half, inserting Maxie Esho into the lineup and running more of an aggressive full-court press. Boston College turned the ball over 10 times in the second half, allowing the Minutemen to break out into a more comfortable up-tempo style.

That allowed Williams to take over.

Three of his four 3-pointers were in transition, as he pulled up with ample space surrounding him. His first two provided UMass leads. His final transition 3 was a result of a bounce pass down the sideline by Trey Davis. Williams allowed the ball to travel to him and hit the shot as Eagles guard Olivier Hanlan crashed into him, dazzling a decidedly pro-Minutemen TD Garden crowd and putting UMass ahead 62-53 after sinking the ensuing free throw.

“I was just shooting with confidence,” Williams said. “It’s been a long offseason just working out on my jump shot and guys did a great job in finding me. I gotta thank my teammates for finding me when I was open and I just gotta make my shots.”

Williams was the catalyst in shifting the momentum of a game which could pay dividends in deciding both squad’s fate come NCAA Tournament time. His heroics lifted a deadened crowd and visibly shook a Boston College team which failed to recover.

But as Williams provided the initial burst of energy, it was Cady Lalanne who stabilized the run and sucked the energy out of the Eagles.

The 6-foot-10 center posted a career-high 27 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Lalanne’s dominance was especially noticeable on the offensive glass, where he scored 14 points on eight offensive rebounds. He either layed-in or dunked his final seven offensive boards after missing his first put-back opportunity.

“I think he has great desire,” Eagles coach Steve Donahue said, noting that Lalanne “demolished” them on the boards. “I don’t know what his skill level is, I just know he plays hard as heck and smelled blood and he took advantage of it.”

Lalanne, the only traditional center on the floor for most of the game, grabbed four offensive boards in the final 5:41 of the game, scoring on each occasion. His effectiveness under the basket never allowed the Eagles to climb back into the game.

“Every day in practice and every day we do anything, the coaches, Chaz, Sampson (Carter), they all tell me ‘you gotta dominate every game,’” Lalanne said, “and that was my mindset coming into the game.”

UMass coach Derek Kellogg said the team’s making a conscious effort to truly post the ball this season, noting he thought the team went to the inside post more Sunday than in the previous two seasons combined.

“I expect (Cady) to play like he did (Sunday) just about every time out,” Kellogg said. “Maybe not (27 points and 12 rebounds), but with that ferocity and kinda getting rebounds around the basket.”

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.

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