By DAVID BORAKS
UMass’s desperation alley-oop play failed as time ran out, giving the Davidson College men’s basketball team a 63-61 victory over the Minutemen at Belk Arena Wednesday night.
JP Kuhlman had 18 points for the Wildcats – including a pair of game-winning foul shots with 4 seconds left. Brendan McKillop added 13 as the Wildcats won their second game in three nights. The win boosted Davidson to 6-8 on the year.
Ricky Harris had 21 points, and Anthony Gurley had 17 for UMass, which fell to 6-7.
The Wildcats fell behind by as much as six in the first half, but bounced back to trail by just a point at halftime, 29-28. They came out shooting in the second half and took advantage of some key missed shots by the Minutemen to build a 9-point lead with 4:48 left in the game.
But UMass came back with a 12-2 run, finished off by a Harris jump shot that tied it at 61-61 with 12 seconds left. That set up a heart-stopping finish that saw the game go down to the final second.
Davidson brought the ball back up court, and as Kuhlman drove on the left side, he was fouled by Gurley with four seconds left. The Wildcat freshman hit both foul shots, giving Davidson a 2-point lead, 63-61.
UMass passed the ball in to Harris, who brought it across the mid-court line and called a timeout with 1 second remaining. When play resumed, Gary Correia threw an arcing inbounds pass from the right side of the court to the left side of the rim. Sean Carter bobbled the ball and it fell to Gurley, who tried but failed to put it in the basket as the buzzer sounded.
“It was just a hard-fought battle between two aggressive teams, two tough-minded teams who refused to relent, refused to give up,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said after the game.
“We made big shots, big plays at big times,” he added. “A lot of great things happened out there. We had to take this game away.”
UMass Coach Derek Kellogg said his team missed chances and gave Davidson the opening it needed. “They made two free throws to win it, and we missed a layup,” Kellogg said.
The Minutemen were aggressive, out-rebounding Davidson 44 to 38 and forcing the Cats into 14 turnovers. UMass scored 40 points under the hoop, compared to just 19 for Davidson.
UMass appeared to be outmuscling Davidson by the middle of the first half. The Minutemen played aggressively beneath both baskets and with about 7 minutes left, led 23-17.
UMass led 27-21 with 2:58 left after Harris hit four points in a row, 2 foul, shots and a layup.
Then Davidson’s Bryant Barr got hot from outside. He hit one three-pointer to make it 27-24, Harris hit another to make it 29-24. Then Barr hit another 3 from the right of the foul circle to make it 29-27 with 1:42 left in the half. Frank Ben-Eze hit a free throw to bring the Cats within 1, and UMass didn’t score again, making it 29-28 at the half.
Kellogg said his team didn’t take advantage of its first-half lead. “We let an opportunity slip away when could have been ahead by more at the half,” he said.
Davidson hit just 34.6 percent of its shots in the first half. They came back in the second half to shoot 46 percent, and ended the game at 40.4 percent overall, compared with UMass’s 35 percent.
Davidson is back at Belk Arena next Monday at 7 p.m. to host Samford as the Southern Conference regular season gets into full swing.
DAVIDSON VS. UMASS GALLERY
Click any photo to launch a slideshow of photos.