UMass, the No. 13 team in the nation, saw its late-game magic run out in a loss, on the road, against Richmond on Wednesday night. The Minutemen used come-from-behind wins against St. Joesph’s, St. Bonaventure and George Mason in three of the four games leading up to its matchup with the Spiders.
And on Sunday afternoon at home, UMass appeared to be off to another slow start with Fordham racing out to a 7-0 start, while the UMass offense shot 0-for-4 from the field with four early turnovers. However, UMass quickly regrouped. The Minutemen set the tempo, and used its height advantage to control the glass (43-31) to get back in the win column with a 90-52 victory over the Rams.
After allowing the first seven points of the day, the Minutemen went on a 24-5 run, which doubled up Fordham’s score. UMass entered the break with a 40-24 lead. Maxie Esho energized UMass when he came off the bench to score the first four points of the game — the first off an offensive rebound, followed by a dunk in transition.
From there Chaz Williams ran the show, scoring 14 of his 18 in the first, including four 3-pointers while dishing out eight assists on the afternoon, a brief afternoon at that. All 11 UMass players scored including Raphiael Putney with 13 with Trey Davis and Esho scoring 13 and 10, respectively, off the bench.
UMass refused to take its foot off the gas to start the second half, going on a 17-0 run in the first four-plus minutes to stretch its lead from 16 to 33.
Jon Severe began the game with an open 3-pointer. Other than a transition dunk, that was the only good look he got in the first half. UMass swarmed him, and the entire Rams offense, allowing a 32 percent shooting on the afternoon. The Rams was limited to 6-of-27 from beyond the arc (four of which came with Fordham down 30-plus). Severe ended 2-of-14 for seven points. Chris Whithead had 13 points, followed by Branden Frazier with a dozen.
UMass head coach Derek Kellogg opened up his rotation on Sunday afternoon with Clyde Santee, Seth Berger and Demetrius Dyson all seeing action in the first half along with regular reserves Esho, Davis and Tyler Bergantino. The expanded rotation is an effort to reduce the mileage on UMass’ core contributors as well as a way to develop some younger talent.
The Minutemen have been in some fights this season in conference so far, and they’ll need their starters and bench guys at full strength as the Atlantic 10 season progresses with VCU and Saint Louis still needing to make the trek up to Amherst while UMass also has a date with George Washington in the Nation’s Capitol for a good road test.