UMass post-game stories

From Massachusetts newspapers, etc.: UMass Erases First Half Deficit To Beat Charlotte 66-61 As Lasme Sets Blocks Record

Boston Globe:

[b]Lasme's mark the right stuff[/b]

By Rob Greenfield
Boston Globe
January 29, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – When University of Massachusetts senior tricaptain Stephane Lasme came to the United States from Gabon, Africa, he couldn’t speak a word of English.

Now, in his last season as a Minuteman, he is an NBA prospect and the career blocked shots leader in UMass history.

“I wasn’t thinking about [the blocks record] when I came to UMass,” Lasme said. “But it’s great to break it. It’s a great feeling.”

“When I got to UMass, [Lasme] really wasn’t on the radar a whole lot,” UMass coach Travis Ford said. "We told him, ‘You don’t realize how good you are, Stephane. You have no idea.’ "

Lasme passed Marcus Camby in career blocks as the Minutemen defeated Charlotte, 66-61, yesterday in an Atlantic 10 battle in which bodies hit the floor as much as basketballs.

“We really, really, really needed that win,” Lasme said. “We needed that win more than they did, I think.”

Lasme entered the game tied with Camby at 336 blocks and passed him with three. He added 12 points and nine rebounds in the win, even though a little early foul trouble caused him to sit for much of the first half.

The Minutemen (15-6, 5-2) came out on the wrong side of a game-opening 11-3 run, and spent the majority of the afternoon trying to catch the 49ers. UMass finally pulled itself back in the game and took the lead after a Lasme deuce produced a 35-34 advantage just under three minutes into the second half.

From there it went back and forth. Charlotte (8-11, 2-5) answered the Minutemen’s run with a 6-0 run, mixed in with a high-flying jam from big man E.J. Drayton, who slammed it home with the foul for a 38-35 Charlotte lead.

Drayton finished with a hard-earned 16 points and 13 rebounds against the dominating duo of Lasme – first in the nation in blocks this season with 108 – and fellow captain Rashaun Freeman, who leads the Minutemen in scoring with 17.1 points per game. Freeman finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“[Lasme] is a great shot blocker,” Drayton said. “He is really a great player.”

For UMass, it all started on the defensive end. Charlotte is notoriously lethal from 3-point land with two guards – junior Leemire Goldwire and senior De’Angelo Alexander – who can light up the scoreboard in a hurry.

Ford’s main objective was to prevent the 49ers from taking threes, and UMass held Charlotte to just 16 attempts from downtown, 13 below its average. Alexander finished with 13 points and Goldwire had 11 – both totals short of their season averages.

“I didn’t want to play with fire,” said Ford about Charlotte’s long-range attack. "I was very proud of our team in the execution of the game plan in that area.

“It’s just so hard to win on the road in this league, and we’re just happy to get a win.”

UMass took control with a timely 8-0 early second-half run that began with a Chris Lowe 3-pointer with the Minutemen trailing, 42-39. Junior Etienne Brower hit a three, and Freeman added a nifty hook shot to push the lead to 5.

The Minutemen held onto the lead until the 3:18 mark, when Drayton put in a layup to tie the game at 55. But junior Gary Forbes (13 points) took advantage of some slow-to-get-back 49ers and hit a layup (with the foul) with just under a minute to go. Forbes made the free throw for the 63-58 lead, and the Minutemen held on.

“Our defense in the second half I thought was the difference in the game,” Ford said. “Our team showed a lot of resiliency.”

In the first half, the 49ers shot 4 for 8 from beyond the arc. In the second half, they went 2 for 8.

The Minutemen, usually solid from 3-point range, limped to a 31.3 percentage (5 of 16).

UMass has had its struggles from the free throw line lately, and that came back to hurt the Minutemen in losses to Miami and Rhode Island. The percentage wasn’t great yesterday (59.1, 13 for 22), but the Minutemen knocked them down when the game was on the line, including a pair from Lowe with 21.7 seconds left that gave UMass a 4-point cushion.


Daily Hampshire Gazette:

[b]UMass erases big deficit in road win[/b]

Daily Hampshire Gazette
January 29, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team used its bruising one-two punch of Stephane Lasme and Rashaun Freeman to wear down the Charlotte front line, hold off a late 49er rally and escape Halton Arena with a 66-61 victory Sunday.

But this one didn’t come easy.

With 28 seconds to play and UMass leading by five, Charlotte guard Leemire Goldwire nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Minuteman lead to 63-61. The 49ers then forced Etienne Brower into the corner on the inbound pass, but Brower was granted a time-out when it appeared he was falling out of bounds. The officials conferred and determined Brower had possession and called the time-out before his momentum carried him out of bounds.

The Minutemen used the time-out to set up a play for Chris Lowe who drove the length of the floor and was fouled. Lowe hit both free throws to extend the lead to 65-61. He hit one more down the stretch for the final margin.

Freeman led the Minutemen with 18 points, 10 of which came in the second half. He also grabbed 11 rebounds to record his 11th double-double of the season. Lasme added 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field.

Gary Forbes, who returned to the starting lineup, contributed 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

The win moved the Minutemen to 15-6 overall, 5-2 in Atlantic 10 play, which ties them with Xavier and Fordham for third place in the conference behind George Washington (6-1) and Rhode Island (6-2). UMass does not play a midweek game and hosts Richmond at noon Saturday. The 49ers dropped their third straight and fell to 8-11 (2-5 A-10).

The Minutemen had to dig their way out of a 25-9 hole to start the game. But UMass never deviated from the game plan to go inside on the Niners and eventually outscored Charlotte 20-7 to close the first half.

Lasme, Freeman, and Brower combined for 18 points in the half and caused Charlotte to pack into a zone.

“Everybody knows by now that we’re going inside,” UMass coach Travis Ford said. “Charlotte’s probably the biggest, most physical team we’ve played. I told our guys this wasn’t going to be like a lot of other teams in our league where we’re just bigger than they are.”

While UMass struggled from the 3-point line in the half, it wasn’t for a lack of open looks. Freeman and Lasme drew frequent double teams, leaving open shots for the Minutemen guards. One 3-pointer each for Ricky Harris and James Life was all UMass (2-for-9 in the half on long balls) had to show for it.

Meanwhile, the UMass defense turned up the pressure on the Charlotte long-range threats. The Minutemen held the 49ers to just 16 attempts in the game from beyond the arc.

“I told our team, it’s not that I don’t want Charlotte to make threes, I don’t want them taking threes,” Ford said. “For a team that’s averaging 29 threes a game, to hold them to 16, I was very proud of our team and the execution of the game plan in that area.”

UMass held De’Angelo Alexander to just one second-half point and 13 in the game. Goldwire never got comfortable offensively either and finished with 11.

“We did a good job taking the game away from Goldwire and Alexander,” Ford said. “We said if the other guys on the team beat us, fine, just don’t let those big two get hot.”

While the perimeter defense stifled the guards, Stephane Lasme made sure the 49ers didn’t get too comfortable down low, either.

Lasme blocked a reverse layup attempt by Alexander at the 16:44 mark of the second half to break Marcus Camby’s UMass career record of 336 blocked shots.

“I wasn’t thinking about it when I came to UMass,” Lasme said of the record. “It wasn’t one of my goals, but it’s great to break it.”

Lasme finished with three blocks, but his presence in the lane altered countless attempts by the Niners.

On one possession, Charlotte forward Jerell Jamison launched an attempt from the left side of the rim that barely caught the top right corner of the backboard in an attempt to shoot over the 6-8 forward.

“The players brought (the record) up in the locker room before I even did,” Ford said of Lasme’s record. “To bypass one of the great college basketball players of all time, Marcus Camby, it’s incredible.”

UMass Sports Blog - That was big

Matt Vautour
Daily Hampshire Gazette
January 29, 2007

UMass needed that one badly. The Minutemen didn’t actually play that well but found a way to grind through it.

I wasn’t at the game for a variety of small reasons not worth noting here. It’s the last one I’ll miss this year. So I was part of the TV38 audience. I wasn’t impressed. Pete Gillen is funny and entertaining and would be good with a good play-by-play guy, but Tom Hart was not good. He never seemed to have it straight how many fouls anybody had. Both guys were obsessed with comparing Chris Lowe and Tiki Mayben to Travis Ford as a player. Interesting once. Maybe twice. The dead horse was throroughly flogged by the end of the first half. Plus they were in love with Coleman, who is a foul machine.

With Lasme going in needing one block to pass Camby, would it have been that hard to get some Camby footage to show?

It wasn’t terrible, but they need some work.

Etienne Brower; I like his energy and most of the time his game, but he needs to be more focused with the ball. I think Ricky Harris is going to be very good later in his career. He’s pretty good now.

Link: - UMass Sports

Springfield Republican: UMass hangs on for win

"We really, really, really needed that win," Lasme said. "We needed that win more than they did, I think."
:confused: Right... Or should I say :violin: I guess he's on the mind frame of, they will do more with that win than we would have...
While the perimeter defense stifled the guards, Stephane Lasme made sure the 49ers didn't get too comfortable down low, either.
I think EJ was pretty comfortable. Double-double. Better than Lasme did. Geez, the DHG makes Lasme sound like he played really well with how they are going on about him.