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Derrick Gordon's putback seals No. 23 UMass’ 69-67 overtime win over Providence

JERREY ROBERTS
Cady Lalanne, left, of the University of Massachusetts, shoots against LaDontae Hinton, of Providence, Saturday at the Mullins Center.

JERREY ROBERTS Cady Lalanne, left, of the University of Massachusetts, shoots against LaDontae Hinton, of Providence, Saturday at the Mullins Center.

By MATT VAUTOUR @GazetteUMass
Sunday, December 29, 2013
(Published in print: Monday, December 30, 2013)

When Davis, a sophomore point guard for the University of Massachusetts, released his floater against Providence with three seconds left in a tied game, Gordon thought it was going in.

But the sophomore guard crashed the boards anyway and was waiting when the ball bounced off the back rim right into his hands. Gordon put it back in as the No. 23 ranked Minutemen beat the Friars 69-67, at the Mullins Center Saturday night.

“I’m fortunate it went my way,” Gordon said. “Everybody crashed the boards, I just happened to be the one that came up with it.”

UMass won without Chaz Williams as the all-conference point guard fouled out late in regulation, forcing Davis to handle the ball. Bryce Cotton’s 3-pointer tied the game with 36.5 seconds left in overtime.

It marked the second straight season that UMass and Providence came down to a putback in the final seconds.

A year ago, when the teams met in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Terrell Vinson tipped back a Williams miss to give the Minutemen a 77-75 win.

“We were fortunate that Derrick Gordon has a good nose for the ball,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

Providence coach Ed Cooley shook his head in the postgame press conference.

“I’m very, very, very disappointed we lost that game. This is back-to-back years losing at the buzzer to this team,” Cooley said. “When we play next year, just put one second on the clock and see what happens.”

Despite a sloppy performance, the Minutemen appeared in control leading 56-46 with 4:01 left. But UMass, which lost Williams with 1:39 left, struggled to get points and stops down the stretch as Providence finished regulation on a 13-3 run.

After Williams fouled out with 1:39 left, UMass got a tough break with 40 seconds left. Leading 59-57, the referees ruled that Sampson Carter’s 3-point attempt didn’t hit the rim creating a shot clock violation. If the horn hadn’t blown, UMass might have gotten the rebound but the play was blown dead with nobody in possession. The referees checked a monitor and determined it had hit the rim, but PC got the ball anyway because it had the possession arrow.

The Friars took advantage of their good fortune as Cotton hit a driving layup to tie the game with 10 seconds left in the second half.

UMass led 65-61 with 1:50 left in overtime. After PC’s Josh Fortune made one of two free throws, the Minutemen missed a chance to stretch their lead when Maxie Esho missed two free throws with 1:31 left. After Tyler Harris made two from the line to pull the Friars within 65-64, Esho atoned for his misses with a high-rising athletic tip-in with 47 seconds left setting up Cotton’s tying 3.

UMass (11-1) is off until Saturday when it hosts Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m.

“I’m proud of the guys. I thought they played well and competed,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “To come away with a victory when things weren’t perfect was a testament that we’ve gotten better as a team and a program.”

Lalanne led UMass with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Carter (12 rebounds) and Davis each had 12 points. Williams had 10 points and 10 assists.

“I think (UMass) will play in the NCAA tournament,” Cooley said. “They showed their team grittiness today.”

Cotton led PC (10-3) with 24 points, while Harris added 16 points and nine rebounds.

“I’m proud of our group,” Cooley said. “I’ll cheer for UMass the rest of the year. They have a good basketball team. This is nothing to put our head down about on the road. We’ll get better.”

UMass struggled, especially early, against PC’s physical play as the officials called the game loosely in the paint.

“I felt like I was playing football out here with no equipment,” Williams said.

PC fed UMass a sizable dose of its own medicine with more fast-break points (14-6) and points off turnovers (14-11) than the Minutemen.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage