UMass men's basketball runs away from Rhode Island

Last modified: Friday, March 08, 2013

AMHERST — When Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley successfully lobbied the officials to put extra time on the clock just before halftime, the Rams turned those additional 0.8 seconds into a 3-pointer.

It seemed like a potentially big moment in the game. The shot cut the University of Massachusetts’ lead to 10 points and given the Minutemen’s tendency to let big first-half leads disappear and their tendency to play in close games, a three-point swing seemed like it might be significant.

Instead, the Minutemen came out of intermission with the gas pedal down. They scored the first 10 points of the second half and ran their rivals out of the Mullins Center in an 81-53 rout.

“We figured that they had a lot of momentum coming into the second half after (Xavier) Munford made that 3-point shot, so we wanted to just come out with a lot of effort,” UMass senior guard Freddie Riley said. “That was a good effort for us and we were able to build on the lead that we already had. It just worked. It was great. That was something that we talked about in the locker room at halftime, too.”

UMass coach Derek Kellogg hoped it signalled an end to his team’s slow second-half starts.

“It was good to see because I told those guys, ‘If you keep the lead going the right way, you’ll continue to play. You won’t come out.’ Maybe that’s a little incentive for them, to say you come out and play hard and do the right things and you’ll stay in the game,” he said. “I think it was a good team effort and it was great to come out and play well to start the second half. ... I thought that was the best start to a half that we’ve had all year.”

Hurley was impressed by the Minutemen (15-6, 5-3 Atlanta 10) and frustrated with his own team, which fell to 6-15 (1-7 A-10).

“We knew we were in trouble from the start. They were in attack mode and really, really locked in. They took the fight right to us and hit us in the jaw,” he said. “For the first time this year we were not competitive. We got outplayed and got our butts kicked from when we stepped on the court. ... That might be the most talented team physically that we’ve played in the conference.”

Entering the game, the Minutemen hadn’t led by 20 points at any juncture this season, but they cleared that milestone on a Williams three-point play during UMass’ second 10-0 run in the second half with 9:05 remaining. The lead nearly reached 30 when Trey Davis hit a layup with 2:07 left that made it 81-53, but the Minutemen didn’t attempt another shot in the game.

Munford kept Rhode Island in the game in the first half. He had almost half the Rams’ offense with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting and hit the 3 to make it 41-31 at halftime. But Riley did the lion’s share of defensive work on him in the second half. Munford scored seven to finish with 22, but led by Riley, UMass harassed him into 2-for-10 shooting after intermission.

As Munford slowed down, Williams started to heat up. The junior point guard had 17 of his 27 after the break and finished with eight assists and just two turnovers.

Terrell Vinson added 13 points and five rebounds. Cady Lalanne had 11 points and six boards.

The Minutemen host Saint Joseph’s at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Matt Vautour can be reached at Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at


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