Chaz Williams nets winner as UMass edges Siena
UMass' Raphiael Putney soars over Siena's O.D. Anosike as he drives the ball to the basket. UMass went on to win the game 64-63. Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian.
UMass' Chaz Williams chases Siena's Ryan Oliver as they both battle for a loose ball as the final seconds wind down. UMass went on to win the game 64-63. Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian.
Jesse Morgan, left, of the University of Massachusetts, drives to the basket against Siena, Wednesday in Albany, N.Y.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Add Chaz Williams to the University of Massachusetts’ collection of last-second heroes.
After putting the Minutemen on his back for much of the second half as they erased a 17-point deficit, Williams fittingly delivered the decisive blow, a driving layup with 3.3 seconds left that gave UMass a 64-63 win over Siena, Wednesday at the Times Union Center.
“It was good to see our guys gut out another win,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “It wasn’t the way I envisioned it. It’s probably the strangest 3-2 (record) I’ve ever seen in my life. Three last second game winners is probably unheard of and unfathomable.”
The Minutemen are well versed in last-second plays, having won their first two games in the final five seconds. But in those games, the score was tied when UMass got the ball for the final possession. A miss meant overtime at worst. This time the Minutemen trailed 63-62 and faced a bad loss if they couldn’t add to their late-games heroics.
But Williams beat Evan Hymes off the dribble and laid the ball in.
“Coach had faith in me. He didn’t call timeout and left the game in our hands,” said Williams, who had 23 points, including 14 in the second half, eight rebounds and six assists. “I just had to go make a play.”
Siena (2-5) called timeout to set up its desperation play, then Kellogg called timeout when he saw how the Saints were positioned. After Siena called the third straight timeout, Trenity Burdine tried a touchdown pass from under his own basket, but Sampson Carter tipped it to Williams to seal the win.
“I was relieved to come away with a win on the road,” Kellogg said. “We’re very fortunate to be 3-2.”
Maxie Esho and Carter each added 10 rebounds for UMass, which hosts Miami, Saturday at 2 p.m.
Hymes led the Saints with 15 points.
UMass missed 22 of its first 30 attempts, clanging shots of the front, back and side of the rim, occasionally hitting no rim at all. Meanwhile, the Saints were 11 for 23, including 7 for 11 from 3-point range in the first half, as they built a 33-16 lead with 3:11 left until intermission.
But out of a timeout Freddie Riley hit a 3-pointer, UMass’ first after 12 misses, that launched an 8-1 run to end the half.
“We cut it to 10 and fixed some things in the locker room and we had momentum coming out of the locker room,” senior Terrell Vinson (17 points) said. “We came out and played faster and stopped letting them be so comfortable.”
Rob Poole (11 points) opened the half with a 3-pointer for Siena but the Minutemen’s momentum carried into the second half. They went on a 20-6 surge, capped by a Carter putback, that gave UMass a 44-43 lead with 11:54 left. Williams scored the next four points as the Minutemen looked like they might pull away.
But UMass expended a lot of energy digging out of its hole. Siena counterpunched and led 62-58 with 3:46 left.
Siena got a free throw from O.D. Anosike (13 points, 13 rebounds) between baskets by Carter and Jesse Morgan to set up Williams’ final sequence.
“We stick together,” Williams said. “We have that faith and confidence in each other to know we’re going to pull through at the end of the game.”
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.