UMass point guard Chaz Williams takes responsibility for loss at Virginia Commonwealth
RICHMOND, Va. — After going 1 for 7 from the field with six turnovers, University of Massachusetts junior point guard Chaz Williams put Thursday’s 86-68 loss to VCU on his own shoulders.
“I take this hard. Wins go on me and so do losses,” Williams said. “This is a big loss on my shoulders. I was getting a little lackadaisical going to the ball and a little fatigued. I take full responsibility on that.”
Williams looked like he might have a shot at a triple-double in the first half with seven assists and seven rebounds to go with his three points. But VCU’s defense swallowed him in the second half and he finished with six points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
“Chaz Williams is a great player,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “We got him going fast and turned him over some. For him to go 1 for 7, we’ll take that every night.”
UMass coach Derek Kellogg took Williams out of the game for the last six minutes.
“The game was pretty much out of reach and I didn’t want to totally burn him out for Saturday” against Temple, Kellogg said.
Williams wasn’t alone struggling to handle the pressure.
The Minutemen turned the ball over a season-high 24 times, a number that could have been worse if the Rams hadn’t pulled back late with the game out of hand.
Only Tyler Bergantino, who played six minutes late, didn’t give the ball away for UMass.
FUTURE MINUTEMAN? — UMass could be benefiting again from Missouri’s loss. Anton Beard, a well-regarded point guard in the high school class of 2014, withdrew an early verbal commitment to Missouri Wednesday and is now strongly considering the Minutemen.
Beard, a Little Rock, Ark. native, is a cousin of UMass assistant coach Marlon “Smoke” Williamson, which has naturally improved the Minutemen’s chances.
Rivals.com lists the 6-foot-1 Beard as a four-star recruit, while ESPN has him at three stars.
ESPN’s evaluation of him includes the following: “Beard is a very complete point guard who can score in a variety of ways, run the team and set up teammates. He is strong and physical and has the ability to take over the game with his scoring and passing.”
Beard has offers from Connecticut, Arkansas, Florida State, Georgetown, Tennessee and Marquette.
Zach Coleman, the 6-foot-7 forward from Texas who signed with UMass in November, had also previously committed to the Tigers.
HOMECOMING FOR PUTNEY — Playing in his only game this season in his home state, Raphiael Putney led UMass with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.
UMass’ other two Virginians, Javorn Farrell and Izzy Freeman, didn’t make the trip. Farrell, like Putney is from Woodbridge, but is redshirting this season with an ankle injury. Freeman, who is from Manassas, is academically ineligible for the second semester.
NEXT UP — UMass won’t get long to prepare for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Temple at the Mullins Center. The Owls (16-8, 5-5 A-10) were stunned by Duquesne, Thursday at home. The Dukes had previously been winless in the A-10 at 0-9.
MISCELLANEOUS – Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade was in attendance. ... VCU sold out its 32nd straight home game with an attendance of 7,617 at the Siegel Center. ... UMass is 2-1 vs. Rams after beating Rhode Island and Fordham.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.