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No. 13 UMass bounces back, routs Fordham

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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AMHERST, Mass. — Massachusetts coach Clark Kellogg had to wonder how his 13th-ranked Minutemen would bounce back after losing at Richmond last Wednesday night.

Then, when his team fell behind Fordham 7-0 in the first three minutes, there must have been at least a little doubt in the coach’s head.

It all quickly went away as forward Maxie Esho came off the bench and ignited 24-5 run that sent the Minutemen on their way to a 90-52 Atlantic 10 blowout of the Rams before a packed house at Mullins Center.

“I was a little worried when we were down 7-0,” said Kellogg, whose team scored the first 17 points of the second half to finish off a 20-0 run. “But I figured we’d come out and at least put forth a good effort. The reality of it is when you have a big crowd like we had it’s tough not to come and play and compete.

“You might not play perfect. You might get off to a slow start, but when you’ve got all those students and fans waiting to cheer for you, waiting to get into the game, I think that’s a huge boost — that’s the sixth man we’ve been looking for for a long time.”

Having lost at Richmond, UMass (17-2, 4-1 league) will take a hit when the new AP poll comes out on Monday. But rebounding with an effort like this should make the bump down a bit less severe.

And given the number of tight games these kids have been involved in lately, the laugher had to be more than welcome.

“Especially coming off a loss last game to come out and feel like we got our swagger back,” said guard Chaz Williams, who led the way with 18 points and eight assists in just 27 minutes. “We feel like we weren’t playing UMass basketball and doing what we’re used to doing.

“We’re starting to realize that (the close games) are starting to take a toll on our bodies. We’re trying to limit those situations as much as possible.”

Williams did his damage against his old coach, Tom Pecora, who brought Williams to Hofstra before both left after Williams’ freshman year. Williams is 5-9 now but, according to Pecora, was 5-5, 110 pounds when Pecora recruited him as a sophomore in high school.

Williams, the conference leader and No. 3 nationally in assists, moved into 11th place on the UMass all-time scoring lost. He was 4 of 6 from 3-point range, his team 13 of 27 for the game.

Forward Raphiael Putney and guard Trey Davis added 13 points apiece and Esho 10 points and six rebounds for the Minutemen.

Fordham, which has lost seven of its last eight, came in sporting two of the top three scorers in the conference — guards Jon Severe and Branden Frazier Nos. 1 and 3, respectively. Severe, averaging 23.2 points per game over the last nine coming in, was 2 of 14 from the floor and scored five points, while Frazier, at 18.1 per game, managed 12 points.

“I’m tired of saying we’re young and tired of saying we’re inexperienced,” Pecora said. “No complaining, no excuses, no regrets. We’ve got to get better.

“This is a tremendous league, but we have an opportunity to get better by going to VCU Wednesday — and you can see how thrilled I am about that.”

Guard Chris Whitehead led the Rams with 13 points.

After needing more than three minutes to score their first points, the Minutemen recorded their eighth 40-point first half of the season and led by a season-high 16 at the half. They went on to lead by a season-high 38 points in the second half.

NOTES: UMass freshman G Demetrius Dyson hit a 3-pointer in the second half for his first college points. … Fordham lost for the 24th time in its last 25 games against ranked opponents, falling to 7-50 all-time against the Top 25. … New UMass football coach Mark Whipple, beginning his second stay at the school, delivered a ceremonial first toss, then took the microphone to fire up the crowd. … Fordham is at Virginia Commonwealth on Wednesday, while UMass, in the midst of five out of six and six out of eight games on

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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