SARAH GANZHORN UMass players huddle together at the end of halftime during a men's basketball game against BYU Saturday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. UMass defeated BYU 105-96.
SPRINGFIELD — Rarely does the final score in a game between two uptempo offenses produce a result that matches the potential.
But the No. 21-ranked University of Massachusetts and Brigham Young didn’t disappoint the sellout crowd at the MassMutual Center. The two high-scoring squads raced up and down throughout. When the dust settled, the Minutemen outran the Cougars for a 105-96 win Saturday.
The win puts UMass at 8-0 for the first time since the 1995-96 season, when it eventually advanced to the Final Four.
The Minutemen are off this week for finals before facing Northern Illinois at the Mullins Center, Saturday at 3 p.m.
“I thought it was a great game,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg, who was admittedly overhyped for the game in his home city. “It was a fun game. It was a nice college basketball game to watch. Both teams got up and down the floor. ... We’re fortunate to be 8-0. I think these guys are going to come and work and get ready for Northern Illinois next weekend.”
Chaz Williams scored a career-high 32 points and tied the school record for assists (15) in a game.
Williams had plenty of help. Junior Maxie Esho’s ability to get free and score inside BYU’s zone gave UMass a huge lift in both halves.
After watching BYU score six consecutive points to start the second half and cut UMass’ 52-41 halftime lead to five points, Kellogg called timeout. When the Cougars quickly cut UMass’ lead to three, Kellogg put Esho back in and he scored six points in a 10-2 run that he capped with a nifty reverse layup that erupted the MassMutual Center crowd.
From there UMass was in control as BYU only briefly got within single digits the rest of the way.
“I was just trying to stay aggressive and attack the rim,” Esho said.
Esho finished with 12 points and a team-best six rebounds as he helped UMass overcome the ineffectiveness of Cady Lalanne, who was limited to five points and three rebounds in 21 minutes.
“I would have said that was tough to get 105 and have Cady get five,” Kellogg said.
Esho and Williams were joined in double figures by Sampson Carter (20 points), Raphiael Putney (15), Trey Davis (11) and Derrick Gordon (10).UMass has 29 assists on 35 baskets.
“It was a really nice job by our guys sharing the basketball,” Kellogg said. “We did much better job against the zone than we have in years past. The guys played selfless and they played to win which is slowly becoming a staple of this team, which is what I’m most proud of.”
BYU’s Tyler Haws went back and forth scoring with Williams late in the first half, but even his 25 points and Matt Carlino’s 23 weren’t enough to keep the Cougars (7-3) in the game.
Carter said the crowd gave the team a lift.
“It was unbelievable energy. They were with us the whole way,” Carter said. “Even when we felt a little bit down, they picked us right up.”