CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Chaz Williams scored 19 points, Raphiael Putney had 18 and Cady Lalanne added 16 points and 14 rebounds as Massachusetts ran past tired No. 19 New Mexico 81-65 on Friday to reach the Charleston Classic championship.
The Minutemen improved to 5-0 for the second time in four years and will play either Clemson or Davidson on Sunday night for the tournament title.
New Mexico was playing a day after a double overtime victory against UAB and wore down as the game went on. The Lobos (3-1) tied the game at 61 on Alex Kirk’s short jumper with 7:56 remaining. That’s when Massachusetts took control with a 14-0 run that put it ahead 75-61.
Kirk finished with a career-best 32 points for New Mexico. The Lobos missed their final eight shots after tying the game and managed just four foul shots down the stretch.
New Mexico will take on the Clemson-Davidson loser in the third-place game Sunday.
Kirk worked hard to top his previous best of 31 set against Cal State-Bakersfield in January 2011, going 11 of 26 from the floor as he was swarmed by Minutemen whenever he got the ball. Kirk also finished with 11 rebounds.
Along with Chaz Williams’ scoring, the senior from Brooklyn played tight defense on the Lobos own high-scoring guard, Kendall Williams.
Kendall Williams, who led New Mexico with 29 points in the win over UAB, was held to 13 points on 5 of 12 shooting. Much of the time, Chaz Williams was tightly defending him.
Putney’s slam on a pretty feed from Chaz Willilams broke the tie at 61 and gave Massachusetts the lead for good. Derrick Gordon followed with a basket and Williams had his third 3-pointer to put the Minutemen ahead 68-61.
Putney followed with a jumper and a 3-pointer and Gordon closed the charge with a basket that made it 75-61. The Lobos had no answers.
New Mexico had staved off its first loss of the season in dramatic fashion Thursday to start its Charleston Classic, trailing UAB by six points with a minute left in regulation, by five points with under a minute to go in overtime. It was tied in the final minute in the second extra period.
Each time, the Lobos got a critical 3-pointer to pull out the win. Williams hit a running floater from behind the arc as time ran out, then Kirk stuck an open 3 to force a second overtime. Cleveland Thomas hit the three with 39.4 seconds left in that period that finally put New Mexico in front on the way to a 97-94 win.
As happy as the Lobos were, the long game had likely sapped the energy needed to take on run-and-gun UMass, which put up 96 points without the benefit of extra time in getting past Nebraska on Thursday.
But the Lobos matched the Minutemen for much of the first half, building a 27-22 lead with 7:33 left on 16 points from Kirk, the 7-footer.
That’s when Massachusetts got its attack in gear with a 14-0 run ignited by Chaz Williams. The point guard hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 27-all. After Derrick Gordon’s two foul shots, Williams had a layup to extend the margin to 31-27.
Williams added two more foul shots after a technical was called on the New Mexico bench in protesting Cullen Neal’s turnover. Lobos coach Craig Neal, Cullen’s dad, drew a technical foul in the tournament opener against UAB.
Kendall Williams’ jumper in the final minute drew the Lobos within 38-33 at the break.