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UMass falls short of VCU in Atlantic 10 semifinals

  • Cady Lalanne, center, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past  Juvonte Reddic, right, and Darius Theus during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Cady Lalanne, center, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Juvonte Reddic, right, and Darius Theus during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Trioy Daniels, left, of Virginia Commonwealth drives past Terrell Vinson of the Universtiy of Massachusetts during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament on Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62.  (AP Photo)

    Trioy Daniels, left, of Virginia Commonwealth drives past Terrell Vinson of the Universtiy of Massachusetts during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament on Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Freddie Riley, right, and Tyler Bergantino, center, of the University of Massachusetts block Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Freddie Riley, right, and Tyler Bergantino, center, of the University of Massachusetts block Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sampson Carter, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Sampson Carter, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg, left, reacts during the second half against Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    University of Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg, left, reacts during the second half against Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rob Brandenberg, third from left, of Virginia Commonwealth goes up  against the University of Massachusetts in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Rob Brandenberg, third from left, of Virginia Commonwealth goes up against the University of Massachusetts in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Treveon Graham, right, of Virginia Commonwealth goes up against Tyler Bergantino of the University of Massachusetts during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Treveon Graham, right, of Virginia Commonwealth goes up against Tyler Bergantino of the University of Massachusetts during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Chaz Williams, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Chaz Williams, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Chaz Williams, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Chaz Williams, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Freddie Riley, right, and Tyler Bergantino, center, of the University of Massachusetts block Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)

    Freddie Riley, right, and Tyler Bergantino, center, of the University of Massachusetts block Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cady Lalanne, center, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past  Juvonte Reddic, right, and Darius Theus during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • Trioy Daniels, left, of Virginia Commonwealth drives past Terrell Vinson of the Universtiy of Massachusetts during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament on Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62.  (AP Photo)
  • Freddie Riley, right, and Tyler Bergantino, center, of the University of Massachusetts block Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • Sampson Carter, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • University of Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg, left, reacts during the second half against Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • Rob Brandenberg, third from left, of Virginia Commonwealth goes up  against the University of Massachusetts in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • Treveon Graham, right, of Virginia Commonwealth goes up against Tyler Bergantino of the University of Massachusetts during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • Chaz Williams, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • Chaz Williams, right, of the University of Massachusetts goes up past Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. VCU won 71-62. (AP Photo)
  • Freddie Riley, right, and Tyler Bergantino, center, of the University of Massachusetts block Juvonte Reddic of Virginia Commonwealth during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10  tournament Saturday in New York. Virginia Commonwealth won 71-62. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK — The University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team played much better than it did against Virginia Commonwealth a month ago, but the Minutemen still came up just short of the upset Saturday.

The Rams hit several big shots down the stretch to pull away with a 71-62 win in the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

No. 2-seeded VCU (26-7 ) advanced to the final to play No. 1 Saint Louis, which beat No. 5 Butler 67-56 in the first semifinal. UMass (21-11) left hoping it had done enough to hear its name called when the NCAA tournament field is announced at 6 p.m. Sunday.

“At this point in the season, I’d say we’re an NCAA tournament team,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “Does that mean we get in? I’m not sure. I hope we do.”

Trailing 35-34, UMass scored the first basket of the second half to briefly take a one-point lead, but the Rams scored the next seven points to grab momentum. VCU’s advantage briefly reached 54-44 near the midway point of the half, but the Minutemen went on a 12-4 run to get within 58-56 with 5 minutes, 23 seconds left.

UMass had the ball with a chance to tie, but Cady Lalanne missed a layup in traffic. The Rams pushed the ball quickly and Sampson Carter fouled Briante Weber as he banked in a layup.

Weber then picked Freddie Riley’s pocket at the other end and fed Troy Daniels, who pulled up and knocked down a 3-pointer to put VCU ahead 64-56 with 4:18 left.

The Minutemen answered with a 5-1 run to get within four and made a stand defensively that looked like it would earn them a stop. They forced Rob Brandenberg to shoot a tough-angle deep 3 from the corner with three seconds on the shot clock and 1:21 on the game clock, but the ball splashed through to extend the Rams’ lead to 68-61.

“That was a dagger,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “We chart shot quality on our team . . . That was one of our worst shot-quality shots in the game. But he had to take it. He made a big play.”

Kellogg shook his head.

“Chaz (Williams) was draped all over him, but sometimes in big- time college basketball games that happens,” Kellogg said.

UMass turned the ball over 24 times, but helped blunt the damage by outrebounding the Rams 50-36.

Williams had 18 points, four assists, five turnovers and two steals. Lalanne added 14 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out, while Sampson Carter (eight points, 12 rebounds) and Maxie Esho (10 rebounds, six points, four blocks) each had double-figure rebounds.

UMass shot 37.7 percent from the field (29.6 percent in the second half) as Carter (1-for-7), Terrell Vinson (1-for-7), Riley (1-for-4), Esho (1-for-5) and Raphiael Putney (1-for-5) combined to shoot 5-for-28 from the floor.

Daniels scored 20 for VCU, while Juvonte Reddic added 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“I thought that was a high-level basketball game,” Kellogg said. “I was proud of the way our guys came out and played with very little time to prepare. … We came out and competed. We just didn’t win the basketball game.”

Williams, a Brooklyn native, said it was special to play at home.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “It would have been even better if we could have walked out with a championship, but it was a great experience for me, my team and us as a program.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at @GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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AMHERST — The season will continue for the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team, but not in the tournament it wanted. The Minutemen received a No. 2 seed in the National Invitation Tournament and will play No. 7 Stony Brook at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Mullins Center. The game will be online only on ESPN3. UMass (21-11) had hoped … 0

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