UMass holds firm to defeat Colorado at Myrtle Beach Invitational, 66-63

CONWAY, South Carolina Noah Fernandes scored a game-high 22 points while RJ Luis added a career-high 18 points off the bench as the Massachusetts Minutemen beat Colorado in the Myrtle Beach Invitational opener, 66-63. The Minutemen (2-1 overall) held Colorado 34 percent from the field and under 30 percent in the final 20 minutes of play.

Colorado opened the game 6 of 8 from the field to take a six-point lead less than five minutes into the game, its biggest of the day.

Luis provided a spark from the bench for the Minutemen, knocking down his first four shots for a total of nine points. The freshman added a 3-pointer with just under 13 minutes remaining to give the Minutemen a 16-15 lead, his first since the opening bucket. The Minutemen held a three-point advantage at the break and were shooting 53% from the field behind 13 points from Luis and 11 from Fernandes.

UMass built a lead as big as 11 twice in the afternoon, first after an 11-0 run to go ahead 58-47 that was capped by four straight points for Isaac Kante. Kante continued his streak after a Colorado bucket to extend it to six straight points before finishing with 10 of 5 of 8 points and four rebounds.

After the Minutemen cut their lead to 11 points with 7:31 remaining, the Buffaloes closed their gap and eventually cut their deficit to three points with 4:12 to go. UMass held a two-point lead with 53 seconds left and made a defensive save to set up Fernandes’ free throws with 9 seconds left. Fernandes knocked down one of the two and Colorado missed a pair of 3-pointers as time ticked away.

matt cross had a team-high eight rebounds, while Luis and TJ Weeks Jr. each chipped five boards in the afternoon.

The Minutemen continue to play at the Myrtle Beach Invitational tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2 against No. 24-ranked Texas A&M or Murray State.

For complete coverage of the UMass men’s basketball team, follow the Minutemen on Twitter at @UMassMBB, on Instagram and Facebook at @UMassBasketball and online at www.UMassAthletics.com.

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