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La Salle Explorers vs. UMass Minutemen Final: Donte Clark's five three pointers help UMass beat La Salle 66-59

UMass moves into a three-way tie for second place in the A-10.

Donte Clark exploded for 23 points to lead the Minutemen
Donte Clark exploded for 23 points to lead the Minutemen
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Massachusetts Minutemen have now won four games in a row. Cue overused Richard Sherman holding up four fingers picture now.

UMass started off firing on all cylinders with Donte Clark knocking down four quick behind the arc shots to give UMass a commanding 20-10 lead with 10:48 to play in the first half. It was clear La Salle did not account for Clark in the scouting report as he would finish with a team high 23 points and added seven boards and four assists.

La Salle would make a push late in the half to cut into the lead thanks to Steve Zack and Jordan Price. It looked like they might get the game to just one possession but Tyler Bergantino had other ideas. With 12 seconds left in the half, Bergantino grabbed an offensive board after Derrick Gordon missed a layup and crammed home a one handed slam. Bergantino was the leading scorer off the bench with four points.

Steve Zack had an impressive day rebounding the basketball for La Salle. He had 13 total boards including six offensive ones. He was only able to score six points on 2-7 shooting however.

After Price missed a three at the buzzer UMass had a 37-30 halftime lead.

The second half is where Price showed why he is the unquestioned leader of La Salle. To the start the second half he scored La Salle's first 14 points. If you didn't know better you would have thought you were watching Kobe on the 2006 Lakers.

Price was the only Explorer to finish with double digit points with 30. That's right, he had more than half of La Salle's points. If anyone else had been able to score the ball UMass would not have gotten the win.

Jerrell Wright hit two free throws to cut the UMass to lead to just 51-47 with just under seven minutes left. That was when Derrick Gordon decided to score three of his four points. Driving to the hoop, Gordon got fouled but was able to keep composer and make the bucket.

With that lead UMass began shutting down their offense. Many teams use this strategy where they wind the shot clock down to five seconds and then try and run their offense. UMass seemed to do it too early and got away from what gave them their big leads, playing fast. Include that with the Minutemen's inability to inbound the ball against La Salle's press and you almost had another gut wrenching loss.

However, UMass showed it could hit free throws down the stretch, hitting five of six in the last minute alone.

Along with hitting free throws down the stretch, UMass also did a good job on the glass. They out-rebounded La Salle 40-32 with all five Minutemen starters grabbing at least four.

The frontcourt duo of Cady Lalanne and Maxie Esho both had very good days. Both scored 11 points and Lalanne added 11 boards for the double-double while Esho had only four. Lalanne and Esho were also sure to make their defensive presence known with two and one blocks respectively. Esho had a spectacular swat in the second half that led to a Donte Clark fed alley-oop on the fast break.

Both Trey Davis and Derrick Gordon looked the complete opposite from the game at Fordham. Davis didn't have an awful game with eight points, five assists, and five boards. But when you are coming off a 26 point onslaught its hard not to look down on that performance. Gordon on the other hand had more turnovers than points with six and four respectively. He did chip in five rebounds but those six turnovers were killer.

The important thing here though is the final score. With this seven point win UMass extends its win streak to four which is the longest of the season. UMass is now 14-9 (7-3) and is now tied for second in the A-10 and is just one game out of first place.

They have an important game coming up next on Wednesday on the road against St. Bonaventure.

Game Leaders

Player UMass La Salle
Points D. Clark (23) J. Price (30)
Rebounds C. Lalanne (11) S. Zack (13)
Assists T. Davis (5) Four tied (2)
Blocks C. Lalanne (2) J. Wright (2)
Steals C. Lalanne & D. Gordon (2) A. Stukes & K. Lewis (2)