- Associated Press - Saturday, January 18, 2014

ELON, N.C. (AP) - Elon embraced the opportunity to take on a nationally ranked opponent in its own gym.

The task against No. 16 Massachusetts was just too tall. The Minutemen controlled the interior and slipped away with an 84-74 victory Saturday night.

“It was an incredible event,” Elon coach Matt Matheny said. “We had a tremendous crowd with a great atmosphere. It was an incredible opportunity. UMass is nationally ranked for a reason.”

Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams scored all 20 of his points in the second half as UMass held off several Elon rallies.

Cady Lalanne scored 16 of his 23 points in the first half as the Minutemen (16-1) won their sixth a row game in a row. This outcome spoiled the occasion on Elon’s campus, which welcomed a nationally ranked visitor for the first time.

Elon shot only 34.4 percent (22 of 64), and with UMass holding a 45-32 rebounding edge it was too much to overcome.

“We didn’t play as clean as we needed to,” Matheny said.

Lucas Troutman scored 19 points and Sebastian Koch had 18 points for Elon (10-9), which had its three-game winning streak end. Tanner Samson added 14 points.

The Minutemen made it difficult for Troutman in the lane. He made six of 20 shots from the field.

“They’re extremely long,” Troutman said. “They’re long and they’re longer than you think.”

Williams, the team’s leading scorer on the season, provided 14 of his points in the last seven minutes.

“I always knew he would catch fire,” Lalanne said. “It was about time he got rolling.”

Maxie Esho finished with 17 points for the Minutemen, who won a non-conference matchup between the teams for the third season in a row.

“I think that’s a very good win for us on the road,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “This was a good, tough 40 minutes for us. That’s about as a full of a 40 minutes we had in a while. I was nervous coming in. I knew this team could beat us if we didn’t play well.”

While the Minutemen controlled the lane - outscoring Elon 38-18 there - it wasn’t until Williams, a 5-foot-9 senior, started clicking that they applied more pressure on the Phoenix defense.

“At halftime, we told (our guys) he’s going to be more aggressive in the second half and he was,” Matheny said.

Williams made 11 of 15 free throws. He took his scoring in stride, more concerned with the lack of assists on the stat sheet.

“I only had four assists and I’m kind of down about that,” Williams said.

Williams missed his only two first-half shots, both in the final 1:30 before halftime. His first points came on a drive with 17:54 remaining, pushing the lead to 47-36.

Samson drained a 3-point basket to pull Elon within 64-56 with 7:06 to play.

Williams answered with a 3 for the Minutemen on a kick-out from Derrick Gordon’s offensive rebound. Williams scored on a drive the next time UMass had the ball.

Elon climbed back on Troutman’s three-point play at the 5:21 mark to make it 69-62. It might have been closer, but Lalanne rejected Troutman in the lane on Elon’s next possession.

“We were right there,” Koch said. “Every time we got it to seven, they had an answer for us.”

Then, Trey Davis’ 3-pointer from the corner gave the Minutemen a 72-62 lead. Samson responded with a 3 for Elon before time started to run out.

“We definitely had a chance,” Troutman said. “We fought tonight. There were lapses in some places. We didn’t play as good defense as we would like.”

The Minutemen, bolstered by ruling the lane against the smaller Phoenix, built a 29-15 lead before settling for a 41-30 halftime advantage. The Minutemen shot 51.6 percent from the field in the opening half.

“What helped us is we shot the ball pretty well early and they had to come out and that spread them out,” Kellogg said.

Lalanne scored the Minutemen’s last five points of the half.

Elon shot 30 percent (9 of 30) in the first half, then began the second half 3 of 15.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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