Maxie Esho came off the bench to tally 15 points and grab seven rebounds as the Massachusetts Minutemen held on to defeat the Rhode Island Rams, 65-61, during the second round of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament at Barclays Center.
Also scoring in double figures for sixth-seeded UMass (24-7) were Chaz Williams and Derrick Gordon with 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Sampson Carter responded with nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.
With the win, UMass now advances to the quarterfinals on Friday where it will contend against third-seeded George Washington in the late game.
Xavier Munford paced 11th-seeded URI (14-18) with a game-high 24 points, while Gilvydas Biruta and E.C. Matthews each dropped in 10 points in the setback.
UMass came out flat to start the game, shooting a dismal 27.6 percent from the field, including 1-of-7 behind the 3-point line. Over on the other side, the Rams made good on an impressive 60.9 percent from the floor in order to claim a 37-29 advantage at the break.
In the second half the Minutemen continued to have their issues from the field (.360), but at the same time brought URI down to 33.3 percent from the floor as well. In addition, the Rams made just one of seven tries on the perimeter and a woeful 5-of-14 at the free-throw line. UMass connected on 16-of-21 at the charity stripe to complete the comeback bid.
In addition to being outscored 28-11 at the free-throw line, the Rams also hurt themselves with 17 turnovers.