AMHERST — Raphiael Putney’s most memorable contribution to the University of Massachusetts’ 85-69 win over Youngstown State came in the waning moments Sunday. The Minuteman senior forward went the length of the court and took off near the foul line.
He finished the dunk ferociously with his right hand and jumped over Penguin forward Josh Chojnacki, who crumbled underneath. It was the latest of Putney’s many memorable dunks.
But overshadowed by the highlight was Putney’s larger contribution to the win. He finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, his second straight strong effort.
Following a promising sophomore year, Putney took a step backward in his inconsistent junior year. The hope for a bounce-back effort was an ingredient in the Minutemen’s preseason optimism.
“It’s my senior year. I’m taking full responsibility for what I need to do for my team. The young guys are looking up to me. I’m just trying to play my senior year to the best of my ability,” Putney said. “My confidence is coming up. I’m staying focused. As long as I keep doing that I’ll be in good shape. I’m focusing on rebounding a lot more. When I start rebounding things start coming to me.”
Chaz Williams said Putney’s progress mirrors the team’s.
“Putt is still coming along. I still feel like our team has some growth to do,” he said.
STREAK SNAPPED — Junior big man Cady Lalanne’s final shot of the game, a miss from the left block, ended a streak of 11 straight baskets, including his last five shots against LSU.
His 15 rebounds matched a career high. Combined with his 13 points, he now has eight career double-doubles.
NEXT UP — UMass (3-0) will play Nebraska at 12:30 p.m. Thursday to open the Charleston (S.C.) Classic. The Cornhuskers are 3-0 with wins over Florida Gulf Coast, Western Illinois and South Carolina State.
BERGANTINO BANGED UP — Sophomore Tyler Bergantino, who was slowed by a minor knee injury, played just three minutes. Kellogg said he expected him to be available for the three games in Charleston.
MILESTONES — Williams moved into UMass’ top 25 in career scoring as his 19 points gave him 1,195 points, passing Carmelo Travieso. He needs 16 to catch Anthony Anderson and Jim Town, who are tied for 23rd with 1,211.
Williams did pass Anderson in career steals as his two gave him 151, which moved him into third place. Next up is Monty Mack (154).
Williams needs just three assists to become the fifth player in school history to reach 500.
MISCELLANEOUS —The Minutemen scored 80 or more points in the first three games of the season for the first time since 1991-92. UMass has never opened with four 80-point efforts. ... Sampson Carter scored in double figures in three straight games, matching the longest streak of his career. ... Lalanne was assessed a flagrant-1 foul for throwing an elbow after grabbing a defensive rebound.