ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – After a harrowing air travel experience to arrive for the game against St. Bonaventure, the UMass basketball team came out strong playing a sensational all-around game and held off the Bonnies in the second half for a 78-69 win at the Reilly Center. With the win, UMass (12-7, 4-2) has tied its season win total for each of the last two seasons. The Bonnies are now 10-9 and 2-4 in the A-10. UMass has won consecutive road conference games under coach Derek Kellogg for the first time in his tenure.
Senior Anthony Gurley was strong and consistent once again, leading the Minutemen in scoring (28 points) for the 17th time in 19 games. He keyed a 12-2 run midway through the second half to put the game in UMass’ control after SBU had cut the deficit to just two. Javorn Farrell added 16 points.
UMass had a great all-around night, shooting 52.7% percent from the floor, outrebounding Bonnies 39-32, limiting them to just 35.6% percent on their field goals and limiting their star Andrew Nicholson to just 11 points and eight rebounds including only four field goals.
Ahead by just two with 14:35 left, UMass went on a 12-2 run showing its resolve and heart to take a 57-45 lead with 11:27 left in the game on a Sean Carter follow lay-up. Gurley was on fire during the run scoring seven points in the spurt.
The Minutemen maintained the lead for the remainder of the game and even equalled its largest advantage of the contest on a Sampson Carter lay-in with 6:18 left for a 65-52 lead.
UMass held off the Bonnies in the final minutes and made foul shots to secure the win.
The Bonnies chipped away at the UMass lead early in the second half and scored five points in about 10 seconds on a 3-pointer by Michael Davenport and a fastbreak lay-up by Marquise Simmons. That cut the lead to just 45-43 with 14:35 left and forced Kellogg to call timeout. Gurley converted a 3-point play on the ensuing possession to stem the spurt.
St. Bonaventure’s Sam de Haas bombed a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half to cut UMass’ leads to 39-31 at intermission. Gurley led all scorers with 10 points in the first half as the Minutemen shot 52 percent from the floor. UMass dominated the glass (22-13) and points in the paint (22-2) in the first half while limiting Nicholson to just three points.
After the Bonnies canned a 3-pointer 20 seconds into the game, but UMass went on a 13-1 run over seven minutes to take a 13-4 lead with 13 minutes left in the first half. During that time, the Bonnies missed eight field goals in a row.
Gary Correia knocked down his second three points in the first half to give UMass a 21-8 advantage with 10:41 left in the stanza.
UMass maintained its lead for the rest of the first half as all nine players to see action scored. Hashim Bailey joined the party canning a hook shot with 4:52 left in the half and a 29-21 UMass lead.