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UMass Minutemen vs. La Salle Explorers final: UMass came apart at the end as La Salle advances to the Quarterfinals with a 76-69 win

Jordan Price strapped the Explorers to his back as he carried them to victory with his 28 points.

We feel you DK
We feel you DK
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A fitting way for the Massachusetts Minutemen to potentially end their season. They started off the game dominating inside, as they often did, and then got frazzled down the stretch of the second half to give their opponents just enough of a lead to keep the game out of the Minutemen's reach.

The beginning of the game was all UMass inside as they dominated the paint. Most notably Cady Lalanne who had seven of the Minutemen's first nine points. Lalanne would go on to have his best performance of the year with 17 points and 19 rebounds. Seven of those boards were offensive. He scored those 17 points on 7-13 from the field. Unfortunately this great effort will probably be quickly forgotten.

La Salle's Jordan Price had a day to remember of his own. He scored the Explorer's first nine points and had 13 in the first half. He would finish the game leading all scorers with 28.

UMass had their biggest lead after nine minutes of play as Derrick Gordon made a tough contact layup inside to give them an 18-9 lead.

Jerrell Wright picked up his third foul mid-way trough the first half and it looked like UMass was going to run away with it.

Senior leader Steve Zack stepped up big time along with Cleon Roberts to hit shots down the stretch of the first half and gave La Salle a 31-30 lead despite being dominated inside all game. Roberts was a godsend for La Salle off the bench. He was second in scoring with 16 points and finished a perfect 6-6 on FTs.

The eighth seeded Minutemen would quickly get the lead back early in the second half. Cady and Donte Clark went on a mini run to push their lead to 42-36 with 16:38 to play and held it until the 11:23 mark.

Donte Clark did not play like a true freshman today. He finished with 23 points and had three big offensive boards at the end. He certainly showed UMass fans that he can be the main guy going into next season.

La Salle would go on a 10-2 run that saw them have a 54-47 lead with 7:57 to go in the game. UMass was never able to overcome that lead despite multiple efforts from Clark, Lalanne and Jabarie Hinds.

Clark was a man possessed on the offensive glass. He made two outstanding put-backs where he high-pointed the ball and laid it back in. He did it with not only his teammates misses but also his own. His 23 points are a career high and led UMass today.

The true dagger to the heart came with 1:35 to play. Clark had just hit a three on the other end to cut the La Salle lead to just 64-63. Hinds then made the ill-fated decision to double Jerrell Wright away from the post. That forced him to leave Khalid Lewis open in the corner and he subsequently knocked down an open trey to end the game.

UMass' three point woes continued today as they were just 4-17 although Clark was an impressive 3-5. La Salle on the other hand found their stroke as they hit 7-18. An even more puzzling disparity was free throws. UMass is usually very good at the getting to line but today was not the case. They were just 13-20 as La Salle got to the stripe 33 times and converted 25 attempts. To be far UMass was fouling at the end of the game a lot to stop the clock.

Other than Cady and Clark, the other UMass players struggled to play consistently. Maxie Esho case and point. He managed to score seven and grab seven rebounds but was just 2-8 from the floor and committed four turnovers. He seemed to be psyching himself out all game.

Trey Davis also had a game to drink away. He had just four points on 12.5 percent shooting including 0-5 from three. He didn't really add anything else with just two assists. He only played as much as he did because Hinds picked up two quick fouls within a minute in the first half. Hinds also didn't have a great game with five points.

C.J. Anderson was the only other bench player to really impact the game. He scored four points which featured a nice pull-up transition bank shot. Derrick Gordon played hard as usual but just couldn't put everything together. He had some good strong takes to the basket which led him to seven points and was active on the glass for five boards. He did fall victim to the long arms of Zack and Wright inside.

For UMass this might be the end of the line. The NIT looks like a pipe dream right now and who knows about he CBI or CIT. Honestly the UMass program is above the last two postseason tournaments but if invited I'm sure the team would accept. La Salle now gets to face number one seeded Davidson.

Game Leaders

Player UMass La Salle
Points D. Clark (23) J. Price (28)
Rebounds C. Lalanne (19) S. Zack (12)
Assists Four tied (2) J. Wright (4)
Blocks M. Esho (2) S. Zack (3)
Steals Four tied (1) J. Price & C. Roberts (2)