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Terrell Vinson's clutch play helps UMass hold off Duquesne

After the Minutemen’s 17-point lead had been cut to three with 7 minutes, 12 seconds remaining, Vinson got the ball on the left side 15 feet from the basket and started to drive. He stopped, leaned back and drained an 8-foot, fade-away jump shot.

At the other end Vinson hauled in a tough rebound in traffic and alertly threw a long outlet to Freddie Riley, who pulled up and swished an open 3-pointer. The sequence launched a 14-2 UMass run as the Minutemen held on for a 79-66 win before 3,421 fans at the Mullins Center.

“I thought we did a nice job in that stretch,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “Freddie’s playing with a lot of confidence right now, which is nice to see. When he made that, I thought that gave us the separation that we needed.”

The sequence was a reminder of last season for Vinson, who made several similar plays in tight spots.

“We look to TV because I feel like in that little midrange post area, there’s not too many people that can guard him,” sophomore center Cady Lalanne said. “During this stretch of games, we really do look to TV to get us some extra buckets and tough plays.”

The game continued a pattern by the Minutemen (12-4, 2-1 Atlantic 10) of allowing big leads to dwindle before recovering to win. UMass used a 19-4 run late in the first half to open a 44-27 lead, capped by two free throws by Chaz Williams with five seconds left before intermission.

With only five team fouls at the time, Kellogg called time-out and instructed his team to commit a foul as soon as the Dukes crossed halfcourt. Freshman Trey Davis put both hands on Johnson to push him off track, but the officials did not blow the whistle and Derrick Colter made a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Kellogg left the court shouting at the officials as his team led 44-30.

That lead shrunk in a hurry. Johnson made his first five shots, including three 3s, and three free throws to open the second half. The surge accounted for 16 of Duquesne’s points in an 18-9 run that got the Dukes back in the game.

But Johnson had just two points after that to finish with 29, as Vinson’s basket-rebound-assist sequence ended Duquesne’s momentum. Vinson, who finished with 17 points, five assists and four rebounds capped the scoring for UMass with an alley-oop pass to Lalanne (12 points, 11 rebounds) with 1:04 remaining.

“I think we’re starting to get some spurtability where we can put some plays together back-to-back. Unfortunately, when that’s going on, we’ve given up some runs, too,” Kellogg said. “So if we can do a little better job of tightening up and then continue to facilitate our runs, I think we’ll get to the point where we’re a team that can compete at the highest level.”

Williams led the Minutemen with 22 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals, with just two turnovers, in 37 minutes, while Riley added 12 points.

Colter added 14 for the Dukes (7-10, 0-3 A-10).

UMass hosts George Washington at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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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Friday, January 18, 2013

AMHERST — Almost all questions about how the University of Massachusetts would handle the absence of injured junior guard Jesse Morgan had been about replacing his 13.4 points per game. But Thursday’s 79-66 win over Duquesne showed losing Morgan’s defense might have been costlier. Morgan had guarded the opposition’s best perimeter player all season and certainly would have been assigned …

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