CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Led by a stifling defense that forced 23 turnovers that led to 28 points, UMass beat Boston College, 82-46 in the Commonwealth Classic on Monday night at Conte Forum. The Minutemen (4-0) outscored the Eagles (1-2), 28-6 over the final 10 and a half minutes to turn an 11-point halftime lead into a 36-point win, the largest margin of victory in the 45 games between the in-state rivals.
Chaz Williams scored a game-high 16 points, dished out five assists, and had three steals. Freddie Riley (14), Cady Lalanne (11), and Jesse Morgan (11) completed the Minutemen’s quartet of double figure scorers.
Besides forcing 23 turnovers while allowing just 11, the Minutemen also dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle 46-31. The UMass bench outscored BC’s 35-8.
The Eagles cut their deficit from 19 down to 14, 54-40 with 10:36 to go, 3-pointers by Jesse Morgan and five-straight points from Freddie Riley began the Minutemen run where they outscored the Eagles 28-6 the rest of the way to cruise to victory.
The 36-point win beats the previous biggest margin of victory in the UMass-BC series, a 30-point Minutemen victory on Dec. 12, 1998 in Worcester. It is UMass’ biggest victory over any opponent since beating La Salle by 37, 100-63 on March 5, 2008.
After leading by 11 at the half, 37-26, the Minutemen built their lead to 19, 54-35 on Sampson Carter bucket with 13:15 left in the game, and after BC knocked its deficit back to 14 momentarily, gave the Minutemen a 8-2 spurt that pushed the lead to 20, 62-42 with 7:54 to go.
The Eagles took their biggest lead in the first half, 16-8 with 14:34 left, but the Minutemen cranked up the defensive pressure, holding BC scoreless for nearly five minutes and to just 10 points the rest of the half. Williams gave UMass its first lead since 2-0 when he made a steal and floater in the lane making it 21-20 and forcing a BC timeout with 8:33 left in the first half.
It would turn into a 29-10 run to end the first half to give UMass a 37-26 lead at halftime. It was a balanced attack for the Minutemen as nine players scored in the opening 20 minutes and none with more than six (Williams).
The victory was UMass’ first over BC since 2007 and first over a BCS conference school since Dec. 13, 2008 (Kansas).
The Minutemen next travel to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 24-26. The Minutemen open the tournament against Florida State on Thanksgiving in a 4:30 p.m. tipoff that will be televised on VERSUS.