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UMass 86, George Washington 75

Capital gain for Minutemen

Vinson, UMass overcome GWU

By Chris Torres
Globe Correspondent / February 5, 2012
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WASHINGTON - Historically, the University of Massachusetts has played well in the nation’s capital, and last night was no exception.

The Minutemen beat George Washington, 86-75, earning a bounce-back win after a disappointing overtime loss to Rhode Island on Wednesday. UMass (17-6, 6-3) remains in a pack of six contenders in the wide-open Atlantic 10.

“Our guys showed some resilience,’’ said UMass coach Derek Kellogg. “I’m happy. I think road wins in this conference are very difficult to get. Some of the guys are starting to mature.’’

After George Washington (8-15, 3-6) opened the game with a 7-2 run, UMass responded after a timeout to tie the game with 16:03 left in the first half. The Colonials never led again, but they didn’t make it easy, getting as close as 4 points on a few occasions.

UMass’s Terrell Vinson and Raphiael Putney got into first-half foul trouble, but it seemed to help as they appeared fresh in the second half. Freddie Riley provided a spark in their absence with 7 first-half points off the bench, including two 3-pointers. Javorn Farrell also contributed with Vinson and Putney on the bench.

“Freddie played a very good game,’’ Kellogg said. “Javorn gave us key minutes in stretches. When Putney is fresh, he’s a really good player.’’

But it was Vinson who made the most noise, scoring a career-high 21 points. Sophmore point guard Chaz Williams added 15 for the Minutemen.

“That was the best game he’s played in awhile. He showed some maturity,’’ Kellogg said of Vinson. The junior forward responded with key scores to keep UMass ahead in the second half, and played with discipline to prevent further foul trouble.

“Their energy was better than ours,’’ said George Washington coach Mike Lonergan. “We couldn’t protect the basketball. We couldn’t get stops.’’

The first half remained close until 11 minutes remained, when UMass increased its lead, which grew to 33-19 with 7:21 remaining.

The Colonials mounted a 10-0 run over the next four minutes to close the gap to 33-29, and the Minutemen went into the half leading only 40-35.

The Minutemen shot 51 percent in the first half, and 40 percent from behind the 3-point arc. They held the Colonials to 48 percent shooting in the first half, including 0 for 7 on 3-pointers.

UMass started the second with a pair of thunderous dunks, the second an alley-oop from Chaz Williams to Putney, which led to a Colonials timeout.

Shortly thereafter, the Colonials got within 7 before the Minutemen extended the lead to 12 with a Vinson dunk off a fast break, following a Putney block.

From there, the closest George Washington got was 6 on Nemanja Mikic’s 3-pointer with seven minutes left.

When asked what his team is capable of down the stretch, Kellogg seemed to like its chances.

“Any time you enjoy going to practice every day and the guys are in the gym working extra, and it’s not always the coach [running] it, you’ve got a chance to be pretty good,’’ he said.

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