AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts basketball team was nearing uncharted territory. The Minutemen brought a seven-game losing streak into Tuesday night's home game against Rhode Island. It had been more than three decades since the Minutemen had a longer losing streak.
The Minutemen cut that Sword of Damocles down with a hard-fought 61-56 overtime win against Rhode Island.
Trey Davis had a team-high 20 points, including four of UMass' 10 points in the five-minute overtime period.
"We played hard. We played defense. We've got to do that every day and capitalize on that," Davis said after the game.
Davis had a chance to win the game in regulation. He was fouled by Earl Watson with 3 seconds left, but only made the second of two foul shots to send the game into regulation.
But the UMass senior guard made up for it when he picked the pocket of URI's Four McGlynn and took it to the iron for the go-ahead basket. Davis later scored on a jumper with 1:38 to play and no time on the shot clock, giving the Minutemen a 57-51 lead. That proved to be too much for the Rams to mount a comeback.
"It was just a good play," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said of Davis' shot, which came after Tyler Bergantino tipped the ball out to the guard from Dallas with two seconds left on the 30-second shot clock. "That was a big play.
"Extra possessions in Atlantic 10 games are, I think, the difference between winning and losing."
With the win, UMass is now 9-12 and 2-7 in the Atlantic 10. URI falls to 12-10 and 4-5.
Davis was 7 of 19 from the floor and just 1 of 5 from outside the 3-point arc. He was 5 for 7 from the foul line, and was asked if the shot took away some of the sting from the missed free throw.
"Yeah. We went up six and it gave us a little cushion," said Davis.
There were seven lead changes and two ties in this A-10 rumble. Both teams had 10-point leads. URI had its 10-point lead with 11:17 left in the first half, but the Minutemen roared back to lead 30-23 at halftime.
Five minutes into the second half, UMass went up by 10, but the Rams did not let that stand as they fought all the way back.
The Minutemen went up 50-44 on a pair of free throws by Davis with 3:11 left. But Rhode Island came back and took the lead on a 3-pointer by McGlynn with 10 seconds left. That set the stage when Watson fouled Davis with three seconds left.
"It was a tough, hard-fought game [between] two really desperate teams," URI coach Danny Hurley said.
The Minutemen hadn't won since beating La Salle in Philadelphia on Jan. 3. The Rams, meanwhile, were 2-4 in their last six games and hadn't won consecutive games since winning three in a row on Dec. 30, Jan. 2 and 5.
The Rams were playing without guards Jarvis Garrett, the team's leading scorer, and forward Kuran Iverson. Both were out with injuries.
Jared Terrell had a game-high 23 points for URI and McGlynn, forced into playing point guard because of those injuries, added 13. Donte Clark had 17 for the Minutemen before fouling out.
"It feels good, obviously, to get a win. We put ourselves in a decent position in the last couple of weeks and haven't really capitalized," said Kellogg. "For the team, I think it was nice to see them to continue to work hard and keep good attitudes, so at some point, we'd come away with a victory."