AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - A career night by Sampson Carter (17 points, 8 rebounds) and a game-high 18 points from Anthony Gurley, propelled UMass (2-0) to a 73-65 victory over Sacred Heart (0-3) on Wednesday night at the Mullins Center. Freshman point guard Daryl Traynham put in an impressive performance with 11 points, four assists, and four rebounds and Matt Hill chipped in with a career-high six points as the Minutemen start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2007-08.
After Sacred Heart erased a seven-point UMass halftime lead, to take a 35-34 early in the second half, the Minutemen made their move, using an increased tempo and ball-movement to build a lead that eventually reach 15-points, 61-46 with 4:29 to go. The Pioneers made a late run, cutting their deficit to four, 69-65, on 3-pointers at the 1:35 and 1:01 marks and a layup at the 30-second mark, but Gurley and Traynham combined to go 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the closing seconds to ice the victory.
UMass shot 40.4 percent from the field on 23-for-57 shooting while getting 24 points at the free throw line in 32 attempts. Sacred Heart shot 43.6 percent on 24-for-55 shooting and was led by Shane Gibson's 14 points. The Pioneers held the edge on the glass, 40-35, but turned it over 20 times to UMass' 12.
After taking the lead back at the 16:17 mark of the second half, UMass' continued to cling to a single-digit lead until seven-straight points, highlighted by a Gurley 3-pointer and finished off by a Hashim Bailey layup, extended the Minutemen's advantage to 10, 53-43 with 7:13 to go.
After UMass led by seven at the half, 34-27, Sacred Heart started the second half with eight-straight points to take its first lead since early in the game, 35-34 and resulting in a UMass timeout with 17:31 on the clock. Hill broke the UMass dry spell 3:43 into the second half when Traynham found him open underneath for an easy two that gave the Minutemen the lead for good.
Both sides came out of the gates ice-cold as each team missed six out of its first seven shots from the field. The Minutemen's cold spell last eight minutes into the game when they were 1-for-11 shooting and trailed the Pioneers, 7-4, before Sampson Carter provided a lift with layups on successive possessions on his way to scoring six points in a 7-0 spurt that gave UMass a 11-7 lead.
That spurt turned into a 15-2 UMass run over the middle portion of the half, leading to a Sacred Heart timeout with 6:59 left in the half and the Minutemen leading, 19-9.
The Pioneers responded with a 7-0 run to pull within three, 19-16, before UMass extended the lead again with a Freddie Riley (9 points) 3-pointer with four minutes to go making it a 10-point UMass advantage, 28-18.
UMass took a 34-27 lead into halftime after Gary Correia found an open Bailey for a one-handed dunk with four seconds on the clock. The Minutemen recovered from their 1-for-11 start by making 9-of-20 shots for the rest of the opening half with Sampson Carter's 12 points leading the way. The Pioneers shot 44.4 percent (8-18) in the half with eight points by Shane Gibson pacing the offense.
The Minutemen return to action on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they take on New Mexico State in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.