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Sampson Carter gives UMass season-opening hoop win

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior forward Sampson Carter attempts a shot over Christian Webster of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Carter missed the basket but put in the winning three-pointer at the buzzer.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts redshirt junior forward Sampson Carter attempts a shot over Christian Webster of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Carter missed the basket but put in the winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior forward Sampson Carter attempts a shot over Christian Webster of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Carter missed the basket but put in the winning three-pointer at the buzzer.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts redshirt junior forward Sampson Carter attempts a shot over Christian Webster of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Carter missed the basket but put in the winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, right, drives against Laurent Rivard of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, right, drives against Laurent Rivard of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, right, drives against Laurent Rivard of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, right, drives against Laurent Rivard of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass sophomore center Cady Lalanne, left, defends a shot by Wesley Saunders of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass sophomore center Cady Lalanne, left, defends a shot by Wesley Saunders of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass coach Derek Kellogg directs the Minutemen in the second half of their 67-64 season-opening win over Harvard on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass coach Derek Kellogg directs the Minutemen in the second half of their 67-64 season-opening win over Harvard on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass Minutemen fans try to distract Steve Mondou Miss of Harvard on a foul shot in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass Minutemen fans try to distract Steve Mondou Miss of Harvard on a foul shot in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass Jesse Morgan, left, congratulates fellow junior guard Chaz Williams after he drew a foul on a lay up against Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass Jesse Morgan, left, congratulates fellow junior guard Chaz Williams after he drew a foul on a lay up against Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass redshirt junior forward Raphiael Putney, right, deflects a lay up attempted by Wesley Saunders of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass redshirt junior forward Raphiael Putney, right, deflects a lay up attempted by Wesley Saunders of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass senior forward Terrell Vinson, right, chases a ball he knocked away from Steve Mondou Missi, top, of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Laurent Rivard of Harvard recovered the ball to deny UMass the turnover.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass senior forward Terrell Vinson, right, chases a ball he knocked away from Steve Mondou Missi, top, of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Laurent Rivard of Harvard recovered the ball to deny UMass the turnover.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • UMass coach Derek Kellogg huddles with the Minutemen in the second half of their 67-64 season-opening win over Harvard on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    UMass coach Derek Kellogg huddles with the Minutemen in the second half of their 67-64 season-opening win over Harvard on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior forward Sampson Carter attempts a shot over Christian Webster of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Carter missed the basket but put in the winning three-pointer at the buzzer.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior forward Sampson Carter attempts a shot over Christian Webster of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Carter missed the basket but put in the winning three-pointer at the buzzer.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, right, drives against Laurent Rivard of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, right, drives against Laurent Rivard of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass sophomore center Cady Lalanne, left, defends a shot by Wesley Saunders of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass coach Derek Kellogg directs the Minutemen in the second half of their 67-64 season-opening win over Harvard on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass Minutemen fans try to distract Steve Mondou Miss of Harvard on a foul shot in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass Jesse Morgan, left, congratulates fellow junior guard Chaz Williams after he drew a foul on a lay up against Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass redshirt junior forward Raphiael Putney, right, deflects a lay up attempted by Wesley Saunders of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass senior forward Terrell Vinson, right, chases a ball he knocked away from Steve Mondou Missi, top, of Harvard in the second half of the Minutemen's 67-64 season-opening win over the Crimson on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. Laurent Rivard of Harvard recovered the ball to deny UMass the turnover.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • UMass coach Derek Kellogg huddles with the Minutemen in the second half of their 67-64 season-opening win over Harvard on Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Carter never hesitated. He caught the ball, elevated and launched. The 3-pointer dropped in with 1.2 seconds left. Harvard was unable to get off a desperation shot and UMass escaped with a 67-64 season-opening win at the Mullins Center before 3,874 fans.

“Once I saw Chaz go baseline and my man covered him, I knew I was getting it. It’s something we work on, so I knew to slide to the corner,” Carter said. “It was instinct. I heard my bench behind me yelling, ‘Knock down,’ so I knew to knock down. I was totally confident.”

Carter had not hit any shot since the end of the Minutemen’s loss to the College of Charleston last November in the Bahamas. That was his last game before a hip injury forced him to have surgery.

While Carter had Tuesday’s enduring highlight, Jesse Morgan made it possible. The Minutemen trailed 64-59 with 1:21 remaining after going almost four minutes without scoring. But Morgan hit a shot spinning in the lane to cut the deficit to 64-61.

At the other end, Morgan smothered Wesley Saunders and forced a 5-second violation.

On the next sequence, Siyani Chambers was expecting Morgan to drive and played off him a step when he got the ball well behind the 3-point line. But the junior guard drained a deep 3-pointer with 38.4 seconds left to tie the game.

“It was a confidence shot,” said Morgan, who scored a game-high 19 points. “I got a basket before that. It was just on the floor, in the offense, the coach called the play, so I saw the guy was backing up off of me so I just shot the ball and happily it went in.”

The Crimson (1-1) had been effective in beating the defensive pressure by UMass for most of the game, but Williams tapped the ball off Christian Webster’s leg with 28 seconds left to set up the final play.

Williams took his time, letting the clock get down to 10 seconds before heading to the basket.

As he got into the lane, Williams scanned the floor looking to see who had come open when the double team eventually arrived. When he saw a defender move away from Carter, Williams got him the ball.

“I’ve been looking forward to this game for a year and a half now — and just to come out and get in foul trouble and not score. Until that moment, it was just frustrating for me,” said Carter, who picked up four fouls in eight minutes.

“I just think it was a test from God, just to see if I could fight through it, and it just so happened that that moment just happened, so I’ll just take it like that,” he added.

Minuteman coach Derek Kellogg said he did not consider calling a time-out.

“I think it was a players’ play at that point. With a minute-something left, they made a couple nice plays,” Kellogg said. “I put the game in the players’ hands.”

“I think we were fortunate,” he added. “When you’re trying to get off to a good start or have a good season, you have to be fortunate more often than not. Sometimes, as you know from many years ago, you need some of those games to happen that way.”

UMass (1-0) now heads to Puerto Rico for three games starting with Providence at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Morgan also contributed a career-high seven rebounds. Williams added 12 points, 10 assists and three steals, along with three turnovers. Cady Lalanne had nine points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Saunders led Harvard with 18 points, while Chambers added 14 points and seven assists.

The Minutemen led by 10 late in the first half before the Crimson went on a 15-5 run to cut the UMass lead to 38-37 at the break.

“We kind of knew they were going to give us their best punch. Coach always preaches to us that we’re not the underdog team anymore,” Williams said. “Some games, we might be, but most of the games, we’re not.

“Teams are going to give us their best shot and they’re going come out and just play as hard as we’re playing,” he added. “So we just have to be ready for that and execute our game plan and work through it.”

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

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