Continued from page 1

Coming off the loss in the final game of a three-game road trip and in danger of dropping low or possibly out of the AP Top 25, the Minutemen turned up the fullcourt pressure early after falling behind 7-0 in the opening 3 minutes.

Sporting new white T-shirts with red lettering that read: “UMass. Time for Pain,” the Minutemen seemed focused to rebound with a convincing win in front of a sellout crowd.

The Minutemen struggled against Fordham’s 2-3 zone on their first few possessions, forcing passes and running the shot clock low, but it didn’t matter when they used the press to pick up the tempo during a 20-2 run over a 5 1-2-minute stretch that was filled with fastbreak baskets and transition 3s.

Esho started the spree with a putback basket and breakaway jam before the 5-foot-9 Williams, the team’s playmaker, nailed consecutive 3s and set up teammates for easy shots. Williams connected on 3 of 5 attempts from beyond the 3-point line in the opening half and added five assists.

UMass pushed its lead to double digits for the first time at 22-12 on Esho’s jam and Williams fed Putney with an alley-oop pass for a dunk on the next possession with just under 9 minutes left in the half. The Minutemen never had the lead fall below 12 points the rest of the half.

It was the eighth time this season the Minutemen scored at least 40 points in a half.

UMass is in the midst of its first ranked season since 1998.