- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Chaz Williams created some room with a cross-over dribble and let fly with a shot his coach never doubted.

Williams made his only 3-pointer of the game with 1:49 left, shrugging off a poor homecoming performance with some clutch plays late, and Massachusetts rallied to beat Rhode Island 65-61 in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament Thursday night.

“I was waiting for that,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said of Williams‘ big 3. “When he raised up, I knew it was in.”

Williams, who went to high school about 3 miles from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, scored 11 points and didn’t have any in the first 17 minutes of the second half. He went 3-for-12 from the field, playing in front of a large group of friends and family members.

“Half of Brooklyn,” Kellogg joked.

The 5-foot-9 point guard hit two free throws with 2:25 left to put sixth-seeded UMass (24-7) up 58-56. After URI cut it to one, Williams made that off-the-dribble 3 from the top of the key to make it 61-57. His mother practically jumped over the railing in the stands after the shot swished and Williams celebrated by holstering his finger pistols.

“Once I made the shot I was like, ‘Finally. Thank you,’” Williams said.

Williams added two more free throws with 34 seconds left to make it a five-point game.

UMass plays No. 3 seed George Washington in the quarterfinals on Friday night.

Xavier Munford scored 24 to lead 11th-seeded Rhode Island (14-18), which lost three games to UMass this season by a total of 12 points.

Munford carried the Rams to a halftime lead. The senior scored 18 points and made all six of his field-goal attempts - including 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Rhode Island went to the break up 37-29 and shooting 61 percent from the field.

Munford and Williams exchanged some not-so-friendly trash talk in the second half, enough to make an official step in and tell the two standouts to “Knock it off! Knock it off!”

“It’s our third time playing them, so it’s going to get pretty chippy and stuff like that. We just had to keep playing them,” Munford said.

Kellogg sat Williams for a few minutes after that to settle down his leading scorer.

“He was pressing a little bit. He’s in Brooklyn, wants to be the best guy on the floor,” Kellogg said. “I thought getting him a blow, letting him watch for a minute or two would kind of refocus him. I thought it worked.”

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