CAROL LOLLIS Raphiael Putney, right, of the University of Massachusetts, shoots over Youssou Ndoye, of St. Bonaventure, Saturday at the Mullins Center. UMass won 73-68.
AMHERST — Sampson Carter and Raphiael Putney picked fortuitous times to break out of prolonged slumps.
With the 19th-ranked University of Massachusetts in danger of losing to St. Bonaventure at the Mullins Center, the two fifth-year seniors each had a big second half to help lead UMass to a 73-68 victory.
“I thought they played like fifth-year seniors,” Kellogg said. “They’re mature guys who realize what it takes.”
Carter, who had shot 20.9 percent over the past four games, hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first half that was as big for his confidence as it was in the game. The shot allowed the Minutemen to get their halftime deficit under double-digits at 32-25.
It also gave him a lift. He was 3 for 5 from the field in the second half and finished with 11 points.
“It felt great man. I came into the game, just worrying about playing defense and doing what I could do to help my team win,” Carter said. “I was motivated by my lack of play last game in a tight game when I couldn’t really contribute to help my team. I felt like I couldn’t let that happen this game. (The buzzer-beater) definitely carried over. We needed a bucket bad before the half ended. I was just happy to see it go through the net.”
Putney, who entered the game averaging 10.6 points per game on the season, scored just 23 points over the last four games (5.8 ppg). Instead of forcing 3-pointers, Putney took the ball to the basket and it paid off. He had a game-high 17 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists.
“It started with defense,” Putney said. “I just brought my intensity and picked it up. That’s what I’ve been doing the whole week.”
ALUMNI GAME — UMass’ come-from-behind win created a much more festive atmosphere for the Coaches vs. Cancer Legacy Game that featured 20 former players and a handful of former managers. Minuteman coach Derek Kellogg and staff assistants Lou Roe and Matt Vogel all participated as the current players hooted and cheered.
Other than no injuries to aging bodies, the highlight of the event might have been an alley-oop pass from Monty Mack to Micah Brand. The two former teammates, who both had long overseas careers, just recently stopped playing professionally.
NEXT UP — UMass heads to Fairfax, Va., to face Atlantic-10 newcomer George Mason for the first time as a conference rival. The Patriots are 7-9 overall and 0-2 in the A-10 after Saturday night’s 84-80 home loss to Saint Joseph’s.
CROWD — The crowd of 6,634 was the fourth largest to see the Minutemen this season and the third largest at home, including the 7,331 fans at the MassMutual Center.
RANKINGS — UMass’ wins this week combined with No. 16 Duke’s loss to Clemson, which the Minutemen beat, likely means that the Minutemen will not only move up from No. 19, but be in the rare position of being above Duke.
NINETY-NINES — The win was No. 99 of Kellogg’s coaching career. Coincidentally, he’ll have a chance to win No. 100 at George Mason, where he began as a full-time assistant coach in 1998. St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt entered the game with a career record of 99-99.