UMass men’s basketball snaps losing skid in overtime victory over URI

By Anthony Chiusano

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

There aren’t too many better ways to put an end to a long losing streak than to beat one’s rival in overtime.

And while the Massachusetts men’s basketball team doesn’t have any classic storied rivalries like Duke-North Carolina or Louisville-Kentucky, Tuesday night’s win over Rhode Island was the closest it could get for the Minutemen.

UMass (9-12, 2-7 Atlantic 10) defeated the Rams (12-10, 4-5 A-10) 61-56 in overtime at Mullins Center to snap its seven-game losing streak extending to the beginning of last month in what is the Minutemen’s longest-running head-to-head series in program history.

“It feels good to obviously get a win,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We’ve put ourselves in decent positions over the last couple of weeks and haven’t really capitalized, so for the team, it was nice to see them to continue to work hard and show good attitudes so maybe at some point we’d come away with the victory.”

Three straight steals by the Minutemen led to a 6-0 UMass run to open the overtime period and four free throws from C.J. Anderson clinched the win after a rocky end to regulation.

Tied at 51 heading into the extra period, Trey Davis stole the ball from URI guard Four McGlynn and finished with a fast break layup. Zach Coleman then came up with the steal on the next possession and passed it to Davis who then set up Anderson with the transition layup.

The early run was capitalized by a tip-out pass from UMass center Tyler Bergantino to Davis on the following possession, which resulted in another field goal for the senior guard.

“It gave us a little cushion,” Davis said about the steals. “I just wanted to come back down and play, have a good defensive possession.”

The overtime period provided Davis with a chance for redemption after he missed two key free throws in the final seconds of regulation with UMass trailing by one.

The Rams went on a 7-0 run, ending with a lead-taking 3-point basket from McGlynn, to retake a 51-50 lead with 10 seconds remaining in the second half.

Davis was given an opportunity to give UMass the lead back but he missed the frontend of a 1-and-1 with eight seconds remaining.

The Minutemen were then given the ball back after the rebound opportunity tipped off a URI player out of bounds. Davis then received the ensuing inbounds pass and was fouled once again under the basket. After missing the first of two free throws, he converted on the next to send the game to overtime.

Davis, who came into the game shooting 85 percent from the free throw line, said it didn’t take long for him to regroup in overtime.

“Once I got the steal and turned it into the layup, it cleared my mind,” he said. “We went up two, so I was like, ‘Let’s go.”

UMass’ 61 points Tuesday marks the least amount of points scored in a win this season. After the game, Kellogg praised the Minutemen’s defensive performance.

“We fought and clawed and played better defense. Giving up 30 percent (from the field) was a nice sign and I thought our backline defense with Tyler and even Rashaan (Holloway) was great tonight,” Kellogg said. “Hopefully it’s something to build upon, I think it is, and we’re going to continue to work hard and try to get better.”

Davis finished with a team-high 20 points for UMass while Donte Clark had 17 before fouling out late in the second half.

URI was limited in Tuesday’s matchup with the absence of Jarvis Garrett (12.6 points per game) and Kuran Iverson (10.5), who both suffered injuries last Saturday to force Rams coach Dan Hurley to stick with a seven-man rotation.

“I think that (Garrett) not playing tonight obviously is a blow. But the fact of the matter is that we’ve all had to deal with injuries and different stuff throughout the season. I think they are a very good team with or without those guys,” Kellogg said. “I was really more worried about UMass because if we can play our game and do our stuff.”

The Minutemen next face Richmond on the road Saturday at 6 p.m. looking for their first winning streak since Jan. 3.

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.