JERREY ROBERTS Raphiael Putney, right, of the University of Massachusetts, and Ronald Roberts, of St. Joseph's try to win the tip-off Wednesday at the Mullins Center.
AMHERST — As Trey Davis went to the free-throw line with 4.2 seconds left and a chance to seal the win for the University of Massachusetts, his father, Curtis Davis, stood stone-faced with his hands up. His mom, Melissa Davis, usually walks around the arena when things get tight, but Wednesday, she scrunched into her seat, hands on her ears, still too nervous to watch.
But when Trey’s first free throw stretched UMass’ three-point lead to four clinching victory, Curtis cracked a smile and Melissa looked up relieved. The second free throw missed, but it didn’t matter.
The Davis’ made the trip from their DeSoto, Texas, home to see the game and it turned out to be one they wouldn’t have wanted to miss.
“He works so hard. He works out all the time. These are moments he lives for,” Curtis Davis said. “He’s learning from the best in Chaz (Williams). I love this team. I love the way these guys play together.”
Melissa Davis was a mixture of relieved and proud.
“Normally I leave the game and go stand outside because I get so nervous,” she said. “Not just with Trey, but with the whole team. I just get nervous. (Tonight) I was just so proud of him.”
Davis finished with just six points, but all six were critical. After struggling in the first half, he hit a big 3-pointer during UMass’ comeback run and then 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch. He dove on a loose rebound to secure a critical possession leading to his two free throws.
“I don’t know what I was doing in the first half. I wasn’t playing with intensity,” Davis said. “The last six minutes I had to make a mark on the game.”
Davis, UMass’ best free-throw shooter at 82.1 percent, wanted to be the guy shooting at the line late.
“My teammates try to get me the ball at the end,” Davis said. “They’re confident in me making free throws.”
He said coming through in front of his parents added to the sweetness of the win.
“It feels good to see them smile,” he said. “I don’t really see them that often. I was glad I could to that for them.”
UMass coach Derek Kellogg has come to rely on him late.
“He’s maybe our No. 1 guy at the end that I want at the free-throw line,” Kellogg said. “I like him and Chaz being out there together because we have two handlers.”
ROBERTS HURT — St. Joe’s senior forward Ronald Roberts hurt his back going up for a failed alley-oop three minutes into the second half. He did not return.
According to Hawk coach Phil Martelli, Roberts’ back seized up. He wasn’t sure whether Roberts would be available for the Hawks’ game at George Mason on Saturday.
NEXT UP — UMass will host St. Bonaventure (11-4), Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Bonnies upended Richmond, 84-70, Wednesday in Olean, N.Y. behind 20 points by Matthew Wright.
MISCELLANEOUS — After missing the past several weeks to attend to family needs, staff assistant Lou Roe was back on the UMass bench. ... The Minutemen reserves outscored the Hawks’ bench 18-0.