Derrick Gordon tips UMass men’s basketball past PC in overtime
With the game tied in the final seconds of overtime, the ball would usually be in the hands of the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s ultra-reliable point guard, Chaz Williams.
But there was one slight problem. Williams was no longer in the game after fouling out late in the second half.
Instead it was up to sophomore guard Trey Davis to pull out the win. Davis got off a jump shot, but it didn’t fall.
Luckily for the Minutemen, Derrick Gordon was there to grab the rebound and put up a floater with 1.1 seconds left to lift No. 23 UMass to a 69-67 overtime victory over Providence in front of a sellout crowd of 9,493 at Mullins Center on Saturday evening.
When Davis’ shot left his hands, though, it looked good to Gordon.
“It just happened to bounce my way and I came up with it and I looked at is as just another floater that I always do,” Gordon said. “So I just made sure that it wasn’t short and got it up in the air.”
Gordon’s game winner came after Bryce Cotton hit a game tying 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining after a free throw battle through most of the overtime between the teams.
It didn’t look like the game would go into overtime down the stretch. UMass (11-1) opened up a 10-point lead with just over four minutes remaining thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Sampson Carter and Williams.
The Friars (10-3) had cut their deficit to six points when Williams fouled out with 1:36 remaining in regulation on a call the point guard was not too fond of.
“I felt like we were playing football all night and I didn’t touch him,” Williams said. “I don’t see where the foul came from.”
Without Williams on the floor, PC scored the next six points, culminating with a Cotton layup with 10 seconds left to tie the game. Cotton finished with a game-high 24 points in the losing effort.
There was a controversial play during this stretch when Carter got off a desperation 3-pointer that appeared to hit the rim. But the shot clock didn’t reset. The referees went to the monitor and determined that it did hit the rim but awarded the Friars the ball on a jump ball since they couldn’t determine who would’ve had the ball.
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The Minutemen had one final chance to get off a potential game winner, but Davis held onto the ball and UMass couldn’t get off a clean shot.
“The one in regulation I was like ‘what are you doing?’ That was really the question because we work on that particular situation quite frequently,” Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg said. “But (Daivs is a) sophomore, hadn’t been in that position before.”
That was quite different from when he had the ball in his hands at the end of overtime. Kellogg said that he saw a much more confident guard at that time although his shot didn’t go in.
The Friars started off the game strong with three-straight buckets on fast breaks, two of which came off of steals while the other came after a forced shot.
UMass answered back later in the half with a 10-2 run to take its first lead of the game at 18-17 with 10:10 remaining in the first half. Davis scored six of the Minutemen’s points during this spurt with a pair of 3-pointers.
The two teams remained relatively close the rest of the half with PC taking a 29-28 lead into the break. Williams went the entire first half without a point before finishing with 10 points and 10 assists. Two of his teammates, Carter and Cady Lalanne, also finished with double-doubles.
The Minutemen came out firing on all cylinders in the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 37-31 lead.
UMass stretched that lead to 10 points at 43-33 with 12:49 left when Davis made a jumper after the Minutemen forced a turnover off of an inbounds play.
PC trimmed its deficit to 50-46 with 7:20 remaining thanks to transition buckets. That’s when UMass responded with the two straight 3-pointers to take what seemed like a commanding lead at the time.
This was the second-straight year that a Friars-UMass game came down to the last second as the Minutemen topped PC on a tip in at the buzzer last season.
“That’s two years in a row. Christmas, Merry Christmas,” Friars coach Ed Cooley said. “Wow they got our number on that. When we play next year just put one second on the clock and see what happens. The same thing happened last year.”
Saturday’s game wasn’t only a thriller, but also the first time that Mullins Center soldout for a Minutemen basketball game since Dec. 2, 2006 against Boston College.
Cameron McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.