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Box score

UMass gets by Colonials
By Jim Pignatiello, The Boston Herald, 1/26/2003

WASHINGTON - For once, the UMass men's basketball team rained on someone else's parade.

George Washington senior Chris Monroe banked in a 10-foot jumper to score the 2,000th point of his career, and the hoop gave the Colonials a 61-56 lead with 9:49 left in the ballgame.

But UMass' young players wrecked Monroe's fiesta, leading the Minutemen to a 75-70 win, their first in the Atlantic 10.

After trailing for the first 16 minutes, 19 seconds of the second half, UMass rookie Gabe Lee scored underneath, giving the Minutemen a 67-66 lead, one they wouldn't relinquish.

Monroe had sunk a foul shot with 7:27 to go, giving George Washington (6-10, 0-5) a 66-60 advantage, but UMass (7-11, 1-5) responded with a 9-0 run for its first lead since 37-36 with 1:30 left in the half.

After UMass freshman Mike Lasme made the front end of a 1-and-1 to cut the lead to five, classmate Jeff Viggiano sunk a 3-pointer, the first in his last 23 tries, to bring UMass within two.

``That was one of the biggest shots of the game,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said.

Said Viggiano: ``It had been a long time since I got one. I can't remember the last game I hit a three.''

Lee scored the next three points, including the go-ahead bucket, and UMass made 6-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to hold on.

UMass essentially had to play without its two senior big men, captains Micah Brand and Jackie Rogers. Brand sat out with an injury (ankle) that has bothered him for two weeks. Rogers struggled throughout the contest with foul trouble and logged just 20 minutes and five points.

Lappas' rookies, Lasme, Lee and Viggiano, picked up the slack. Lasme set a career-high with 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the field. The Abidjan, Ivory Coast, native, who came into the game averaging 7.8 points, scored 14 points in the first half.

``This is going to be a step toward Mike Lasme becoming a comfortable player,'' Lappas said.

Lasme was just happy to snap his team's four-game losing streak, which began at Saint Joseph's on Jan. 11.

``It was really fun,'' Lasme said. ``It's always fun to win.''

Lee chipped in with a 15-point performance, while Viggiano scored 13.

On his milestone day, Monroe shot 9-for-18 from the floor and 9-for-13 from the charity stripe for 28 points. Monroe confided he would have traded it for a victory.

``It's good (to get the 2,000 points),'' he said. ``It would have been sweeter if I had a win.''

Player of the Game
1/25 GW
Anderson (10) 3%
Kouyate (1) 0%
Lamb (0) 0%
Lasme (102) 33%
Lee (20) 6%
Martin (0) 0%
Rogers (0) 0%
Viggiano (177) 57%
Cox (0) 0%

Total Votes: 310

UMASS 75, GW 70
Minutemen prove to be battle-tested
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/26/2003

WASHINGTON - University of Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas decided not to do any pregame preaching about sticking to the game plan and playing under control. Leading up to yesterday's game against George Washington, Lappas told his free-falling Minutemen to battle. That's it. Battle for 40 minutes and see what happens.

That they did. The Minutemen battled through good shot selection, poor rebounding, timely plays, defensive lapses, foul trouble, and momentum swings against a GW team that also battled. In a game matching the only two Atlantic 10 squads without a league victory, the Minutemen clawed back from an 8-point second-half deficit to prevail, 75-70, before 3,698 at the Smith Center.

Guard Michael Lasme scored 24 points - the most by a UMass true freshman since Marcus Camby tallied 32 in the 1994 NCAA Tournament - and sophomore forward Gabe Lee posted career highs in points (15) and rebounds (9) to lead the Minutemen (7-11, 1-5), who held GW to 5 points over the final 9 minutes 1 second to snap a four-game skid.

It was the Minutemen's first road win against a Division 1 team this season. GW (6-10, 0-5) has lost six straight.

''I'm happy for the team. The way they're cheering in the locker room you would think we're going to the NCAA Tournament,'' said Lappas, who recorded his 250th career win. ''We needed this.''

Lappas said he had several one-on-one talks with players after Wednesday night's loss at La Salle, particularly Lasme, who played poorly in that contest. The coach said he was critical of the freshman after the defeat and he wanted to make certain Lasme had regained his confidence going into yesterday.

''I told him that I wanted him to take more chances with shots,'' said Lappas. ''He said to me that he didn't know sometimes what was a good shot or a bad shot. And I told him, `Don't worry about that. Just let it go and then we will watch the game film afterward to see what mistakes he made.' ''

Lasme responded by shooting 9 of 16 from the floor, 3 of 6 from 3-point range, to offset committing six of the Minutemen's 23 turnovers.

''I hadn't been shooting as much as I should. But I'm a shooting guard. I have to shoot,'' said Lasme. ''This is fun. It gets frustrating losing all the time.''

Leading, 41-40, at halftime, George Washington showed signs of pulling away by outscoring the Minutemen, 9-4, to take a 55-49 advantage with 13:51 remaining.

UMass remained close, however, and mounted its best run of the game, closing the gap to 66-65 with 5:17 remaining when Lee hit the first of two free throws. He missed the second and UMass got the rebound, but Minuteman forward Jackie Rogers picked up his fifth foul with 5:04 remaining.

But the Minutemen kept battling, and with 3:41 left, Lee scored inside to give the Minutemen a 67-66 advantage. After both teams struggled to make a basket, Marcus Cox scored for UMass, and after a free throw by Colonials center Pops Mensah-Bonsu, guard Anthony Anderson (10 points, 6 assists) gave UMass a 71-67 advantage when he sank two free throws with 43.1 seconds left. Two free throws by Lasme with 19 seconds remaining gave the Minutemen their largest lead, 75-68.

''We went through a stretch [in the closing minutes] where we didn't execute,'' said GW coach Karl Hobbs, ''and we had critical, critical turnovers.''

The Minutemen were without senior cocaptain Micah Brand, who has played sparingly since spraining his right ankle in practice two weeks ago. The 6-foot-11-inch center's absence was felt by the Minutemen, who were outrebounded, 41-34.

The Colonials' first-half rebounding edge helped offset an exceptional shooting performance by the Minutemen, who hit 16 of 28 attempts from the floor (57 percent) and 3 of 7 3-point attempts (43 percent). GW outscored UMass in the paint, 18-5, and the Colonials' bench outscored the UMass reserves, 13-4. Thus, the Colonials led, 41-40, at halftime despite shooting just 41 percent from the floor.

George Washington was led by Chris Monroe, who scored a game-high 28 points and reached 2,000 for his career.

U-Mass. Leaves GW at a Loss -- Its 6th Straight
By Kathy Orton, Special to The Washington Post, 1/26/2003

This win was there for the taking. Instead, George Washington let it slip away -- literally, right through its fingers.

With their 75-70 loss to Massachusetts yesterday before 3,698 at Smith Center, the Colonials are off to their worst Atlantic 10 Conference start since the 1989-90 season. They have lost six in a row to drop to 6-10 overall and 0-5 in the conference, and the loss to the Minutemen left the Colonials the only winless team in the Atlantic 10.

GW's sixth straight loss to Massachusetts (7-11, 1-5) and was especially painful because the Colonials let a six-point lead evaporate in the final minutes behind turnovers and poor shooting from the field and the free throw line.

"Down the stretch, we just didn't execute," GW Coach Karl Hobbs said. "We just had some critical, critical turnovers where we would get a rebound and just throw it right to them and they just put the ball right in underneath the basket. . . . Those things were real, real tough to overcome."

The loss detracted from senior guard Chris Monroe's career milestone. Monroe scored a season-high 28 points, including the 2,000th point of his career. Monroe, who has scored in double figures his last 30 games, needs 223 points to pass GW's all-time scoring leader, Joe Holup.

"It's good," Monroe said. "I can't really say nothing about it. It would have been sweeter if I had the win."

GW, which led most of the second half, went ahead 66-60 on a free throw by Monroe with 7 minutes 27 seconds remaining. In position to put the game away, the Colonials instead fell apart.

Over the final seven minutes, GW missed seven shots, turned the ball over four times and missed three free throws. The Colonials' lone basket after pushing their lead to six came with one second remaining when Mike Hall put back Pops Mensah-Bonsu's missed basket.

"We weren't able to finish off some plays and our decision making at times wasn't at its best," Hobbs said. "Those are things we have to correct."

While GW remained stuck on 66 for nearly six minutes, Massachusetts scored nine unanswered points to take its first lead of the second half. The Minutemen, who turned the ball over 23 times and were outrebounded 41-34, were far from perfect, but they were able to do what the Colonials weren't -- close out the game.

"Basically, it was kind of a standoff," Monroe said. "It came down to who wanted it more."

Monroe's 2,000th point came on his trademark move. With 9:49 left, he drove to the basket along the left baseline and laid the ball off the backboard to give GW a 63-58 lead.

"It's just an incredible accomplishment," Hobbs said. "I'm very, very proud of him. . . . I feel very honored to have coached him."

Although GW held Massachusetts's leading scorer Jackie Rogers to five points, the Colonials failed to contain freshman guard Michael Lasme. Lasme, who came into the game averaging 7.8 points, scored a career-high 24 points to lead Massachusetts. It was the most points scored by a Minuteman freshman since Marcus Camby had 32 against Maryland in the 1994 NCAA tournament.

Minutemen finally snap losing skid
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/27/2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - With 8 minutes and 10 seconds left and the University of Massachusetts trailing George Washington by seven, the rebound of Mike Lasme's shot skipped of a Colonial player's hand and onto the floor.

It fell between three GW players, but UMass forward Raheim Lamb alertly dove and held on as the GW forwards tried to pry it free. The alternating arrow gave the Minutemen the ball, and the ensuing possession finished with a Gabe Lee dunk.

The basket started a 9-1 run for UMass which turned the game around as the Minutemen came from behind to beat George Washington, 75-70, at the Smith Center Saturday. It ended UMass' conference and road woes, at least temporarily, as the Minutemen (7-11, 1-5) won the battle of previously winless Atlantic 10 teams.

"I'm very happy for them. They were so happy in the locker room you'd think we were going to the NCAA Tournament, which we are not obviously, at least not until the Atlantic 10 Tournament," said UMass coach Steve Lappas, who earned career-victory No. 250. "But this was good for our guys, good for everybody."

With leading scorer Jackie Rogers limited by foul trouble to 20 minutes, the UMass rookies picked up the scoring slack.

Lasme had a career-high 24 points to lead the Minutemen, who won their first game away from the Mullins Center against a Division I team. Lee added 15 points and nine rebounds, both career highs, while Jeff Viggiano scored 13.

Chris Monroe, who notched his 2,000th career point in the game, led GW with 28 points while freshman center Pops Mensah-Bonsu added 13.

The Minutemen will return to action Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at undefeated Dayton.

UMass and George Washington traded the lead 11 times in the first half with Monroe and Lasme lifting their respective teams. Monroe scored seven points in a 9-2 GW run that put the home team ahead 41-37 late. But Lasme hit a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left to bring UMass within one, down 41-40 at halftime.

UMass, which has started the second half slowly in many of its recent losses, did so again as GW stretched its lead to 59-51 quickly and led 65-58 before Lamb's critical tie-up.

After Lee's dunk, Monroe and Lasme traded single free throws to make it 66-61.

Viggiano, who passed up several open 3s earlier in the game, finally pulled the trigger and ended a 1-for-23 long-range drought to bring the Minutemen within two.

"The shot that Vig made was huge," Lappas said. "Here's a guy that hasn't made a shot in forever and he knocks down maybe the biggest shot of the game."

"It had been a long time since I got one," Viggiano said. "My confidence was down, but it felt good coming out of my hand. Hopefully it will continue."

The Minutemen extended the burst and finished the game on a 17-5 run as they made six free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

NOTE: UMass got some bad news on the recruiting front. Roman Narmbaye, the high school big man whom the Minutemen had been recruiting, verbally committed to La Salle.

Matt Vautour can be reached at

Future starting to look bright
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/27/2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The squad won't officially begin play for about 10 months, but the 2003-04 University of Massachusetts men's basketball team won its first game on Saturday.

With Micah Brand sidelined with an ankle injury and Jackie Rogers in the midst of his worst game of the season, the future of the program took control of its present and picked up a badly needed win over George Washington on the road.

UMass coach Steve Lappas has been touting rookies Mike Lasme, Jeff Viggiano and Gabe Lee as the future all season and has been doing it even more since the team has been struggling.

Granted, Saturday's game came against George Washington, a team that isn't winless in Atlantic 10 Conference by accident. But the rookies seemed to learn a lesson in how to win and in the process provided an optimistic glance into the future in what has been an otherwise long winter.

Viggiano, who hadn't hit a 3-pointer in weeks, buried a critical one late in the game in the midst of UMass' comeback run. He finished with 13 points in the game.

Even in the midst of his recent woes, the 6-foot-6 small forward from Suffield, Conn., had still been making an impact in other ways: rebounding, passing and on defense.

"I don't just want to be out there for one thing," Viggiano said. "I don't want to be one dimensional."

Lee's game has been gaining dimensions as well. He is listed as a sophomore but sat out his freshman year as a nonqualifier. He can gain his lost year of eligibility back if he earns his degree in four years.

He's been a strong shot-blocker all year but he has seemed to shed the rust from the rest of his game lately. Lee scored 13 a week ago against David West, the A-10's 2001-02 Defensive Player of the Year, showed his blossoming offensive game as well with 15 points and nine rebounds both career highs.

"I'm playing to my abilities now. I know I'm a player," Lee said. "That's what I came to UMass to do. It's the second half of the year. I'm not a freshman no more. I'm just ready to play ball."

But the story Saturday was Lasme. The freshman guard from the Ivory Coast has shown several prolonged spurts of offensive excellence throughout the season, but Saturday was a true coming-out party.

Lappas told him before the game that as the team's shooting guard, Lasme had to score more and to do that he had to take more shots.

"I told him I wanted him to take some chances," Lappas said. "He wants to please me. He said 'I'm not sure if it's a good shot or a bad shot.' I said 'How 'bout we forget about that today. After the game, we'll watch the tape and decide if it was a good shot or a bad shot. But during the game just go play.'"

Lasme, who often speaks reverently of Lappas, applied the coach's directions.

"I thought about it. I didn't think I had shot the ball enough," Lasme said. "I'm the two-guard. I have to shoot. Coach told me the two-guard is a scorer. Everyday I'm trying to think of all the good things he told me and go out and do it on the court."

The result was a star-making performance. His 24 points were the most by a UMass freshman since Marcus Camby had 32 in the 1994 NCAA Tournament. That's pretty good company to be in.

Lasme scored from the outside, making three 3s and several long jumpers as well as driving to the basket. Late in the first half, the 6-foot-1 Lasme drove through the lane threw down a one-handed dunk that caused the very anti-UMass crowd at George Washington to gasp respectfully in spite of itself.

The youth movement wasn't just the rookies, either. Anthony Anderson and Raheim Lamb are both listed as juniors, which they are academically. But like Lee, they can gain back the lost year of eligibility.

Anderson has struggled this year. As a pass-first point guard, the need for him to score more took him out of his comfort zone. But the play of the rookies allowed him to play a game that was more his style.

Anderson was impressive throughout, breaking GW's press by himself. He shot when he was open and made free throws down the stretch.

Anderson, who had 10 points and six assists, passed credit as well as he did the ball.

"My man Mike was on fire in the first half," he said. "I've watched them grow a lot. Vig and Mike have done a lot and in the second half of the season. It's like they're not freshman anymore."

Lamb is sometimes forgotten in discussions of UMass' youth. He had just two points, but five key rebounds helped slow GW star Chris Monroe late. He also played some effective power forward with Rogers in foul trouble.

With a 7-11 record, any postseason for the Minutemen is a longshot shot at best. But the final 11 regular season games are far from meaningless. If Lappas is going to restore UMass to regular Atlantic 10-contender status, he'll do it on the back of his current freshmen and sophomores, and he knows it.

"You try to imagine what Mike Lasme, Gabe Lee and Jeff Viggiano are going to be like when they're juniors when the team totally belongs to them," Lappas said.

What they gain from the final 11 games could make a difference for the 2003-04 when that team's games actually count.

Matt Vautour can be reached at

Massachusetts Minutemen 75
George Washington Colonials 70
at George Washington

Official Basketball Box Score
Massachusetts vs George Washington
01/25/03  4:00 p.m. at Smith Center (Washington, DC)
VISITORS: Massachusetts 7-11, 1-5 A-10
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
02 ROGERS,Jackie....... f  2-7    0-0    1-2    2  0  2   5   5  1  3  0  1  20
22 VIGGIANO,Jeff....... f  4-10   1-5    4-6    0  3  3   3  13  2  3  2  1  33
04 LEE,Gabe............ c  6-7    0-0    3-5    4  5  9   1  15  0  4  4  0  25
01 LASME,Michael....... g  9-16   3-6    3-5    0  5  5   1  24  1  6  1  3  36
12 ANDERSON,Anthony.... g  2-6    2-5    4-4    1  1  2   4  10  6  2  0  3  36
00 MARTIN,Brennan......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   6
21 KOUYATE,Alassane....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   1
34 LAMB,Raheim.........    1-3    0-0    0-0    2  3  5   3   2  1  2  4  1  26
50 COX,Marcus..........    3-6    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   3   6  3  2  0  1  17
   TEAM................                         6  2  8             1
   Totals..............   27-55   6-17  15-22  15 19 34  21  75 14 23 11 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half: 27-55 49.1%   Game: 49.1%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half:  6-17 35.3%   Game: 35.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half: 15-22 68.2%   Game: 68.2%   3,1

HOME TEAM: George Washington 6-10, 0-5 A-10
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
03 HALL,Mike........... f  5-9    0-3    0-0    4  4  8   3  10  2  1  1  2  30
21 MENSAH-BONSU,Pops... f  5-7    0-0    3-5    6  3  9   3  13  0  2  0  0  26
44 FORCHION,Tamal...... c  2-4    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   2   4  1  1  0  1  11
04 MONROE,Chris........ g  9-18   1-6    9-13   1  1  2   5  28  2  5  0  1  37
05 THOMPSON,T.J........ g  1-8    0-2    0-0    1  1  2   3   2  7  4  1  6  39
01 WILLIAMS,Omar.......    0-7    0-2    2-2    2  3  5   2   2  1  1  1  1  24
13 KIREEV,Alexander....    1-4    0-0    2-2    2  2  4   1   4  0  1  2  0  14
23 COWAN,Jaz...........    0-3    0-1    2-2    1  1  2   0   2  0  0  0  1   8
34 COLLUCCI,Greg.......    1-4    1-2    0-1    0  0  0   1   3  0  2  0  1   7
42 AKINGBADE,Dokun.....    1-2    0-0    0-0    2  0  2   1   2  0  1  1  0   4
   TEAM................                         4  2  6             1
   Totals..............   25-66   2-16  18-25  24 17 41  21  70 13 19  6 13 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half: 25-66 37.9%   Game: 37.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half:  2-16 12.5%   Game: 12.5%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half: 18-25 72.0%   Game: 72.0%    4

Officials: Jeffrey Clark, Jackie Sanders, David Day
Technical fouls: Massachusetts-LEE,Gabe. George Washington-None.
Attendance: 3698
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Massachusetts.................   40   35  -   75
George Washington.............   41   29  -   70

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