Williams, UMass Close Strong to Beat URI 73-68
Sunday, February 09, 2014
KINGSTON, RI-- Chaz Williams scored 21 points and dished out 7 assists, took over the game down the stretch, and further solidified himself as the Atlantic 10’s best "alpha dog" as UMass came from behind to beat URI 73-68 Sunday afternoon at the Ryan Center.
Williams scored 11 of the Minutemen’s points in their 15-3 run late in the game, helping erase a 7 point deficit and build a 5 point lead that eventually stood as the margin of victory.
Derrick Gordon and Raphiael Putney each scored 11 points and made key contributions down the stretch for UMass. Gordon made some key free throws late, and Putney’s fast-break block on T.J. Buchanan (with the score 68-65 at that point) was the defensive play of the game.
For URI, it was a familiar nightmare of foul trouble and inconsistency. Gilvydas Biruta was limited to 17 minutes due to foul issues, and Hassan Martin and Buchanan also battled foul trouble for the Rams.
E.C. Matthews scored a game-high 24 points to lead Rhody’s offensive attack. Xavier Munford added 19 points, and Martin had 5 blocked shots to control the paint area defensively.
Both coaches sang Williams’ praises after the game, identifying him as the clear difference in the game. The 5’9” point guard is an absolute pit bull on the court, a true floor general on both ends of the floor and someone who exemplifies the notion that the size of the fight in the dog is more important than the size of the dog in the fight.
UMass shot 53.1% for the game and outrebounded URI 36-27. URI found a way to keep the game close throughout, but when push came to shove Williams had the answers and the Rams did not.
Good teams win close games, and good teams win on the road in college basketball. UMass fits that criteria, and URI is a program on the rebuild. In games decided by 10 or fewer points this season, UMass is 11-2. URI is 5-8 in those games.
“They are where we want to get to, and these are the type of losses you go through when you’re a team playing a lot of young players,” said URI Head Coach Dan Hurley.
With the win, UMass moves one step closer to the NCAA Tournament. The Minutemen are 19-4 overall and 6-3 in Atlantic 10 play. URI falls to 11-13 overall and 2-7 in the conference.
Up next for URI is a road tilt at Dayton Wednesday night. Rhody topped the Flyers 88-76 in Kingston on January 25th, but Dayton is highly regarded as one of the toughest places to play in the Atlantic 10. URI returns home next Saturday to take on Duquesne.
--Mike Aaman (concussion) was not on the bench Sunday, and Hurley was clear that it was a health related circumstance keeping Aaman away from the team. Hurley hopes to have a clearer synopsis on Aaman’s future status in the next week or two.
--UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg praised URI after the game as a team on the rise, and called the duo of Munford and Matthews as good of a scoring backcourt as there is in the conference.
“I thought that was a big time road win for us,” said a smiling Kellogg.