There is an term in the physiological lexicon known as "fight or flight." This refers to an organism's instincts in the face of opposition and its choice to either stand and fight back or turn and run for the sake of preservation. The UMass Minutemen demonstrated for the second straight game that it is in their nature to never back down, to never run away, to stand up and fight back no matter the circumstances as they stormed back from a late deficit to score a 73-68 win over St. Bonaventure.
Trey Davis buried a three from the corner with 1:12 to play to give UMass its first lead since 17-15 at 7:44 of the first half. The shot also represented the apex of UMass' game-closing 26-8 run over the last 9:50 that saw the Minutemen close a 13-point Bonnies lead through defensive toughness, veteran leadership, and timely shooting.
Chaz Williams, the unquestioned leader of this group, had one the toughest games he has had in a long time on Saturday, but when the game was in the balance he was at his best. His steal with 1:22 left set up the game-winning bucket from Davis, his two free throws with 10 seconds to play gave UMass a three-point lead, and his steal on the ensuing inbounds with eight seconds to play prevented St. Bonaventure from even attempting a game-tying shot. For the second game in a row, it was Williams' defense in the final minute that spoke volumes about who he is as a player.
Fellow seniors Raphiael Putney (17 points, 8 rebounds) and Sampson Carter (11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) put their best foot forward down the stretch on defense as well, both coming up with key defensive plays in the final minutes by using their length to clog passing lanes and bother St. Bonaventure's guards. Carter's impact in particular was noticeable because of his relative anonymity over the last four games, but he managed to find his form on both ends of the court and his contributions proved invaluable.
St. Bonaventure is a good team and is going to do some very good things in the Atlantic 10 this season. Charlon Kloof (15 points, 7 assists) is as fast a point guard as I have seen in college basketball and made life very difficult on UMass in the first half. His aggressiveness kept Chaz Williams on the bench in foul trouble, in turn stalling the UMass offense and allowing the Bonnies to take a seven-point lead into the half.
In the NBA, teams tend to take on the identity of their best player. The same can be said of UMass this season. A resilient, high-powered, never-say-die team, led by its resilient, high-powered, never-say-die point guard -- UMass will always choose to fight.