Fresh off one of its biggest weeks in program history, La Salle was cooled down by one of the smallest players in college basketball.
Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams, a 5-foot-9 blur of quickness, drove for the game-winning layup with eight seconds to go to lift the visiting Minutemen to a 61-60 win over La Salle at Tom Gola Arena on Wednesday night.
La Salle’s Jerrell Wright missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer, after Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren both made go-ahead buckets for the Explorers in the final two-and-a-half minutes of Wednesday’s thrilling Atlantic 10 game.
La Salle (14-6 overall, 4-3 Atlantic 10), which was coming off wins over Butler and VCU last week for the program’s first back-to-back defeats of nationally ranked teams since 1952, was led by 16 points apiece from Wright and Galloway.
Raphiel Putney netted a game-high 17 points for UMass (14-4, 4-3), which led by as many as nine in the second half. The Minutemen have won 11 of their last 13 contests.
Inside the box score
● Galloway finished with six assists and just one turnover, on top of his 16 points.
● Both teams were nearly identical with their shooting percentages; La Salle shot 42.4 percent and UMass shot 42.6 percent.
● Williams had six points, six assists and six rebounds for UMass.
UMass used an 11-0 run to open up a 33-21 lead with two minutes left, but the Explorers scored the final six points of the half – all on Wright dunks off Galloway drive-and-dishes.
Wright led the Explorers with 12 points before the break, while Raphiael Putney scored 11 for the Minutemen.
The Explorers and Minutemen have been very evenly matched with each winning 14 contests in the head-to-head matchup coming into Wednesday’s game.
La Salle, however, had beaten UMass the last four times the two teams had met at Tom Gola Arena before Wednesday.
Bow ties for Brazina
Many people in attendance for Wednesday’s game wore bow ties in honor of Paul Brazina, the retiring dean of the La Salle School of Business. Brazina, as you might have guessed, liked to wear bow ties.
La Salle hits the road to take on George Washington on Saturday, while UMass takes on Charlotte.