KINGSTON, RI — The University of Massachusetts was back at full strength as Maxie Esho returned to the lineup in Sunday’s 73-68 win at Rhode Island.
Esho showed no ill effects from the concussion that sidelined him for most of last weekend’s loss to Saint Joseph’s and all of Wednesday’s win over La Salle.
“I thought Maxie was great. He was in when we made our run, I thought his energy was helpful,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I thought he did a nice job defending.”
Esho wore a padded head band to add a layer of protection for the still-healing bump over his right eye, but otherwise was unimpeded.
He finished with seven points, three rebounds and three blocked shots.
MILESTONES — Chaz Williams’ seven assists gave him 636 in his career and moved him past Carl Smith (633) for second place on UMass’ career list, despite playing just three years as a Minutemen.
Williams needs 42 to catch career leader Chris Lowe.
Williams’ 21 points gave him 1,493 in his career. He needs seven to become UMass’ 10th player with 1,500 career points and 11 to pass Mike Pyatt, who is 10th on the school’s career list with 1,503.
ATLANTIC 10 — The win allowed UMass to stay tied for fourth place with Saint Joseph’s at 6-3 in the Atlantic 10. Both teams are one game behind George Washington and Virginia Commonwealth, who are tied for second at 7-2 and play each other Wednesday.
Rhode Island (11-13, 2-7) dropped into a tie for 10th with Duquesne and Fordham.
Saint Louis remained in first at 9-0.
NEXT UP — The Minutemen host last-place George Mason (8-15, 1-8 Atlantic 10), Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Patriots won their first game since joining the A-10, edging Duquesne 74-68 on Saturday.
MISCELLANEOUS — UMass has now played three 73-68 games since Jan. 11, winning two (Sunday and Jan. 11 vs. St. Bonaventure), while losing the other (at St. Joe’s on Feb. 1).
Former UMass forwards Tyrone Weeks and Matt Hill were in attendance. Weeks is also a former Rhode Island assistant coach, but he was wearing a UMass T-shirt.
Raphiael Putney’s first-half technical foul was his first of the season and UMass’ fourth. Williams has been called for two (vs. BYU and St. Bonaventure) and Esho had the other (against Northern Illinois).
It was UMass’ fourth straight win over the Rams and seventh in the last eight games of the rivalry. The teams play in Amherst on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.