JERREY ROBERTS Raphiael Putney, of the University of Massachusetts, left, dunks against URI Wednesday at the Mullins Center. Cady Lalanne looks on.
AMHERST — Before Sampson Carter’s 3-pointer dropped in with 7 minutes, 5 seconds left in the first half of the University of Massachusetts’s 70-67 win over Rhode Island on Wednesday, it had been a long time since a shot from behind the arc had found its mark.
For over 11 days of actual time and 65:58 of game time, the Minutemen had been dry from 3-point range.
The drought started on Feb. 15 when the Minutemen missed their last three after Carter made one with 13:03 left in UMass’ win over George Washington.
All eight against Virginia Commonwealth were off the mark Friday and the first four Wednesday didn’t fall through. But after 15 straight misses, one finally hit.
“This game, we thought they were going to deny the wings, but they clogged the paint,” Carter said. “It was good that we were able to get that 3-pointer down.”
The Minutemen made 5 of 10 the rest of the way.
CROWD — After a sellout against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday and another upcoming on March 9 against Saint Louis, UMass coach Derek Kellogg was a little disappointed that just 6,234 fans showed up for Wednesday’s game, leaving the Mullins Center devoid of energy.
“It was nice to have a few more students than we did against George Mason, but I was hoping we’d have a little bigger crowd considering where we are,” Kellogg said.
ODD PAINT STATS — UMass outrebounded Rhode Island 41-28. Usually that sort of advantage goes hand-in-hand with a scoring advantage inside, but the Rams dominated points in the paint, 44-26.
“I thought we scrapped on the boards,” Kellogg said. “We hit the boards pretty hard. We missed a lot of easy ones that we were right around the rim to finish.”
MILESTONES — Raphiael Putney’s six points moved him within nine of 1,000 in his career. Chaz Williams’ 16 points gave him 1,558 in his career. He’s one behind Donald Russell, who is No. 8 on UMass’ career scoring list. Williams’ six assists gave him 667 in his career and brought him within 11 of the school record, which is held by Chris Lowe.
ATLANTIC 10 — UMass’ win coupled with Richmond’s loss to George Mason put the Minutemen (22-5, 9-4 Atlantic 10), at least temporarily, in sole possession of third place in the conference, a game behind second place St. Joe’s (10-3), which beat Dayton on Tuesday. The top four teams get byes to the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament.
Virginia Commonwealth (8-4) could move back into a third-place tie on Thursday if it beats Fordham in the Bronx, N.Y. Because the Minutemen beat VCU, UMass would finish with the higher seed if it ends the season in a two-way tie with VCU.
Saint Louis can clinch the league’s regular season title and the No. 1 seed in next month’s A-10 tournament if the Billikens can beat Duquesne at home Thursday.
MISCELLANEOUS — The Minutemen have now won five straight and eight of the last nine against URI. UMass holds an 84-58 lead over the Rams in the all-time series. The Minutemen are 4-0 in games against teams nicknamed Rams (URI twice, VCU and Fordham).
UMass radio broadcaster Josh Maurer was hired as the play-by-play voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox. Maurer was the voice of the Trenton Thunder each of the last two seasons. The new position won’t affect his ability to cover Minuteman football and basketball games.