Maxie Esho recorded his second career double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds as he led UMass in both categories. He also shot 80 percent from the field and hit his only three pointer. With most of the other big men for UMass struggling with fouls he shouldered the load and carried the Minutemen offensively.
The Massachusetts Minutemen saved themselves from dropping below .500 as they are now 1-1 in the conference and 8-7 overall.
The first half opened up with both teams trading baskets. Demetrius Dyson then hit a three to start a 16-7 run to put UMass up 23-14 at the 7:43 mark.
Derek Kellogg decision to shake up the starting lineup seemed to pay off quite nicely. Donte Clark replaced Jabarie Hinds and both seemed to fall into their new rolls rather well. Clark, making his first career start for UMass, finished with seven points and three rebounds. Hinds scored nine points and committed just one turnover (a huge positive) as he returned to the bench.
Just as the Minutemen were looking to end the half with a lead, the La Salle Explorers made a run of their own. Down 32-24 with under four minutes left in the first half, La Salle went on an 8-2 run to close the Minutemen lead to just 34-32.
Cady Lalanne picked up his third foul just 3 minutes into the second half. Lalanne wasn't much of a factor scoring just five points and grabbing three rebounds. This is the second game in a row that he has both been in foul trouble and been outplayed by his counterpart. The other forwards, Tyler Bergantino and Zach Coleman, played well but were also plagued with fouls. Coleman hit two of his three shots from behind the arc for six points. Bergantino didn't produce many stats with zero points and one board but played very good position defense.
La Salle's Steve Zack had a dominating game with 16 points and five rebounds. Most importantly he had four blocks and was a presence down low.
Neither team was able to get much of an edge in the second half as there was not more than a three point lead until Derrick Gordon made an athletic layup with 3:27 left to play in the game to give UMass the 65-60 advantage.
Gordon finally played like himself again with 13 points, four rebounds, and three assists. He also was a menace on defense with two blocks and a steal.
UMass would score six points on their next three possessions to keep La Salle at bay as Jordan Price made back-to-back baskets to try and keep the Explorers in it.
Price, the Explorers leading scorer, struggled from the field shooting wise going just 5-14 finishing with 14 points.
UMass really excelled shooting the ball going 52 percent from the field and an even more impressive 46 percent from the three. The Minutemen were out-rebounded, due to Lalanne being out of the lineup, 37-35. While the overall numbers aren't bad the offensive one are. La Salle managed 16 offensive rebounds which contributed to their 12 more shot attempts. However, La Salle shot just 25-64 from the field.
Trey Davis led the team in assists with five and added in nine points.
The Minutemen's next contest will come against George Mason on Sunday at the Patriot Center starting at 1.