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NIT roundup

UMass takes thriller

Minutemen beat Miss. St. in 2 OT

Staff, Wire Reports / March 14, 2012
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Chaz Williams scored 28 points, Sean Carter added 20, and Massachusetts outlasted host Mississippi State, 101-96, in double overtime Tuesday night in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

UMass (23-11) won the marathon game by outscoring MSU, 11-6, in the second overtime. The Minutemen advance to the second round of the NIT, where they’ll face Seton Hall, which held off Stony Brook, 63-61.

Williams shot 11 of 20 from the field, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. He played 47 of the 50 minutes, and added 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals.

“Coach just preached the will to win and that’s what I think our guys have as a collective group,’’ Williams said. “We just want to win. We’re tired of losing. We don’t want to go home yet and we did everything within our ability to make sure we didn’t go home.’’

Williams, a 5-foot-9-inch sophomore, briefly went down with a left knee injury, crashing hard to the floor and writhing in pain. But he never came off the court, providing several clutch moments down the stretch.

“He means so much to the team that it’s difficult for me to take him out of the game,’’ coach Derek Kellogg said. “He’s good and he’s tough.’’

UMass took a 72-68 lead with 2:48 remaining in regulation, but Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie hit a turnaround shot and later sank two free throws with 41.1 seconds left to tie it at 72. After a miss by Williams, the Bulldogs had a chance to win, but Dee Bost’s 12-foot runner in traffic missed as time expired.

Moultrie scored a career-high 34 points and Bost added 20 for the Bulldogs (21-12).

“Every time we threw a jab, MSU came back with one of their own,’’ Kellogg said. “I think we forced them to play smaller than they are accustomed to with our press. We were fortunate to come away with a win.’’

The Minutemen, playing in the NIT for the first time since a runner-up finish in 2008, scored the game’s first 8 points, built a 13-point lead in the first half, and led, 41-31, at the break.

Mississippi State opened the second half with a 5-0 run to cut the 10-point deficit in half, but UMass responded with a 14-5 run to push the lead to 14 with 15:08 left on a 3-pointer by Williams, 55-41.

The next run belonged to the Bulldogs, who used a 12-0 spurt to turn a 62-51 deficit into a 63-62 lead - their first of the game - with 7:57 left. Neither team led by more than 4 points after that until a Terrell Vinson 3-pointer with 3:12 left in the second overtime gave the Minutemen a 97-92 lead. Vinson scored 5 of his 12 points in the second extra session.

Javorn Ferrell added 16 points off the bench for UMass, while Raphiael Putney had 10 points and 16 rebounds.

For Mississippi State, it was a fitting end to a brutal final month of the season.

The Bulldogs lost seven of their last nine games, despite having two first-team All-Southeastern Conference players in Bost and Moultrie.

Seton Hall 63, Stony Brook 61 - Jordan Theodore scored 21 points and the host Pirates (21-12) won an NIT game for the first time since 1956, holding off the Seawolves (22-10).

Iowa 84, Dayton 75 - Aaron White’s career-high 25 points sent the Hawkeyes (18-16) past the visiting Flyers (20-13).

Tennessee 65, Savannah St. 51 - Jarnell Stokes scored 13 points as the host Volunteers (19-14) beat the Tigers (21-12).

Northwestern 76, Akron 74 - John Shurna had 23 points and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:33 left as the Wildcats (19-13) held off the visiting Zips (22-12).

Middle Tennessee 86, Marshall 78 - LaRon Dendy had 18 points and 13 rebounds, helping the host Blue Raiders (26-6) beat the Thundering Herd (21-14).

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