Chaz Williams, Jesse Morgan lead UMass at Northeastern
Derek Kellogg and the University of Massachusetts beat Northeastern 72-66 Tuesday in Boston. Purchase photo reprints »
BOSTON — With just under two minutes left in a tied game, Chaz Williams caught the outlet pass from Raphiael Putney, stepped on the gas and took off between two Northeastern defenders. As Demetrius Pollard stepped in to foul him, the University of Massachusetts guard contorted his body left and shot the ball with his left hand behind his head.
Williams crashed into the cheerleaders by the time the ball dropped through the net, the official blew the whistle and the crowd of 2,441 mostly UMass fans roared.
Williams missed the free throw with 1:51 left, but it didn’t matter. The shot gave the Minutemen the lead for good and they made six straight free throws in the final minute to seal a 72-66 win at Matthews Arena.
“I figured if I tried to split them they wouldn’t expect me to go around my head,” Williams said. “It’s just making a basketball play.”
UMass coach Derek Kellogg wasn’t surprised by the play.
“We’ve seen it before,” Kellogg said. “I think he works on it in Brooklyn. We don’t do it at UMass. I thought he played a really good second half.”
Williams would never have had a chance for his heroics if not for the restoration of Jesse Morgan’s shooting stroke. After shooting 1 for 10 from 3-point range against Siena, Morgan missed his first 3 against NU and shot an air ball early in the second half. But with UMass trailing by three, he buried a 3 from the right corner with 6:53 left to make it 52-52 and he and went from ice cold to red hot.
The Huskies pulled away and led by six with 4:24 left, but the Minutemen kept finding Morgan in that same corner. He hit four straight 3s, the last of which tied the game at 62-62 with 3:05 left, setting up Williams’ final shot.
“I was just shooting. They were going in, so I just kept shooting,” Morgan said. “It felt real good. My teammates did a great job of finding me.”
Williams tried to feed the hot streak.
“Once he hit one, I told him I’m gonna go to him until he stopped making them,” Williams said. “He just kept hitting.”
Added Kellogg, “He’s done that his whole career. I watched him in high school and AAU. He’s been a streaky shooter. He’s become more of a consistent shooter in college,” Kellogg said. “I saw him go on a run at Reebok Camp where he made seven or nine 3s in a row. When he’s confident and in the right frame of mind, he can shoot with the best of them.”
Morgan and Williams each finished with 18 points, while Sampson Carter added 14 points for the Minutemen (4-3). Reggie Spencer paced the Huskies (4-4) with 15.
“It was another great road win,” Kellogg said. “Northeastern played a great game. ... Our team has a great way about them. They continue to play hard and compete and the biggest thing is we found a way to win today in a game that could have gone either way. I’m proud of the guys.”
UMass is off until Dec. 15 when it hosts Elon at noon at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
The Minutemen were playing without suspended starting center Cady Lalanne. While the sophomore big man has been inconsistent this season, UMass missed him on the defensive glass. Northeastern turned 19 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points.
“I think obviously Cady gets some of those defensive rebounds with his size out there,” Kellogg said. “It was frustrating on two possessions where it seemed like they got four or five offensive rebounds.”
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.