Scrolling Headlines:

Justin King sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison -

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two future UMass hockey players selected in 2015 NHL Draft -

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court ruling clears way for same-sex marriage nationwide -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Former UMass center Cady Lalanne taken 55th overall by Spurs in 2015 NBA Draft -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second of four men found guilty on three counts of aggravated rape in 2012 UMass gang rape case -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boston bomber speaks out for first time: ‘I am sorry for the lives I have taken’ -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape -

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wrongful death suit filed in death of UMass student -

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ryan Bamford uses online Q&A session to discuss UMass football conference search, renovation plans, cost of attendance -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Opening statements delivered, first witnesses called in second trial for alleged 2012 gang rape at UMass -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UMass Board of Trustees approves rise in tuition, student fees -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Former Minutewoman Quianna Diaz-Patterson named to Puerto Rican national softball team -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UMass rowing’s Jim Dietz inducted into CRCA Hall of Fame -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jury selection begins Monday in second gang rape trial -

Monday, June 15, 2015

Students turn attention to state legislators as decision on UMass budget looms -

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alumna and next director of Brooklyn Museum Anne Pasternak ‘created her own path’ -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

UMass graduate crowned head of 600-year-old Indian kingdom -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Committee recommends UMass increase tuition, student fees for in-state undergraduates -

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Darrice Griffin named UMass’ senior associate athletic director for internal operations/senior woman administrator -

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Report: UMass football will host Mississippi State in 2016 -

Monday, June 8, 2015

UMass basketball rebounds against La Salle

Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian

Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian

It was an all-too-familiar start for a Massachusetts men’s basketball team coming off an anything-but-familiar stretch of recent performances.

UMass forward Raphiael Putney sprinted down the court following a Derrick Gordon steal off the opening possession, leaking behind La Salle defenders focused on stopping Gordon’s penetration. Gordon lofted up an alley-oop and Putney finished with a patented dunk, providing a sudden jolt of energy to the 4,345 fans who braved snowy conditions to see the Minutemen down the Explorers 79-67.

Putney’s dunk played out similarly to the many others he’s accumulated over his career. But it also raised the energy level immediately, something UMass has lacked consistently in recent performances. Tonight, energy permeated throughout the entire starting lineup, specifically on the defensive end.

“I thought we played good defense,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We locked up, especially in the first half, created some open floor turnovers and some easy baskets, and we came away with a good victory against a very good team.”

Gordon’s play was especially impressive. He added three steals, blocked two shots and chipped in six assists to go along with 12 points. Facing an Explorers team that relies heavily on production from their guards, Gordon was a defensive pest.

“From the tip, we have to be aggressive on the defensive end,” Gordon said. “A lot of my teammates look at me to start it up on the defensive end, and that’s what I try to do night in and night out.”

The effort translated into production almost immediately. The Minutemen pushed the lead to 10 points before a Tyreek Duren 3-pointer cut it to 28-21. But UMass persisted, taking advantage of a 3-pointer from Trey Davis and a layup from Chaz Williams to push the lead to 35-21 before La Salle finally called a timeout with three minutes, 48 seconds to go in the first half.

“It’s something we always shoot for, is to start the game well and come out with high energy,” Kellogg said.

The Minutemen took a 43-27 lead into halftime. They received 23 points from Williams and Davis combined and blocked five Explorers’ shots in the first half, in addition to grabbing four steals.

The effort continued in the second half. UMass pushed the lead to as much as 20 and spent the majority of the half easily warding off La Salle. Five different Minutemen scored in double-digits, led by Williams who tallied a game-high 17 points. Putney, who finished with eight points, added 11 rebounds and a career-high five blocks.

The performance eased some concerns over the UMass team, which entered the game mired in a two-game losing streak, and having lost of three of its last four. For La Salle coach John Giannini, it was evident early that the Minutemen were focused on turning things around.

“Their warm-ups were focused,” Giannini said. “They were serious, they were together. They looked like a veteran team that knew they needed to win the game.”

UMass also played without reserve forward Maxie Esho, who missed the game due to a head injury. Kellogg shortened the bench, playing only Davis and Tyler Bergantino within a regular rotation. Davis finished with 13 points and was 3-of-3 on 3-pointers.

The Minutemen return to action on Sunday against Rhode Island.

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

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