AMHERST, MA (WWBT) - VCU erased a 15 points second half deficit, but could never take the lead, falling to Massachusetts, 69-63, in Amherst on Thursday night. It marks the Rams' second straight loss and drops their record to 17-7, 9-2 in Atlantic 10 play. It marks their first conference road loss this season.
The Minutemen had just two league wins on the year entering Thursday's contest.
After a back-and-forth battle in the early stages, UMass exploded for a 13-0 run lead to open up a 32-19 lead with just under seven minutes to play in the first half. The Minutemen were 7-for-7 from three point range in the first half to take a 43-32 lead into halftime. The 43 points is the most VCU has given up in the first half this season.
Massachusetts swelled its lead to 15 points in the early minutes of the second half, but VCU chipped away. JeQuan Lewis hit a three pointer from the corner at the 6:19 mark to tie the game at 52, but the Rams could never get over the hump and gain the advantage. Trey Davis's first bucket of the second half came on a three pointer with 4:16 to play to make the score 58-54 in favor of UMass, then Donte Clark's old-fashioned three point play put the Minutemen in front, 63-57, with 2:13 remaining.
There was certainly no quit down the stretch from the Rams. Melvin Johnson came up with a big steal and lay-up with 1:07 to play that trimmed the lead to two, but UMass came away with a big offensive rebound with 20 seconds left and hit its free throws down the stretch to secure the upset win.
Lewis and Korey Billbury scored 15 points each, while Melvin Johnson had 13 points and Mo Alie-Cox chipped in ten. Clark scored a game-high 22 points to pace the Minutemen.
VCU left some points at the charity stripe, connecting on 12 of its 19 free throws. The Rams also struggled from deep, going 5-for-20 from beyond the arc.
The Rams return to action on Saturday when they host Saint Louis at the Siegel Center. Tip-off is set for 6:00pm.