Charleston, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Raphiael Putney scored seven of his 18 points during a game-deciding second-half run to lead UMass over 19th-ranked New Mexico, 81-65, in the semifinal round of the Charleston Classic.
Chaz Williams added 19 points and Cady Lalanne had 16 points and 14 boards for the Minutemen (5-0), who advanced to face the winner of the Davidson/Clemson clash in the championship game on Sunday.
Alex Kirk had a game-high 32 points and 11 boards for the Lobos (3-1), who lost for the first time this season.
With the game tied at 61-61 after Kirk hit a jumper for the Lobos with 7:56 left, the Minutemen responded by scoring the next 16 points to put the game out of reach. Putney began the burst with a dunk and scored seven points during the run, which ended with a Williams dunk at the 1:43 mark for a 77-61 cushion.
UMass cruised to the finish from there.
The game was close throughout. New Mexico's Kendall Williams hit layup midway through the first half to tie the game at 20-20 and the Lobos extended to a 27-22 lead after a Kirk three-pointer at the 7:30 mark.
However, UMass scored 16 of the final 22 points of the half to carry a 38-33 lead into the break. Williams scored five of the 16 points for the Minutemen over that stretch.
GAME NOTES: Derrick Gordon scored 11 points for UMass ... Williams ended with 13 points and five assists for New Mexico ... This was the first-ever meeting between these two schools ... UMass beat Nebraska in the opening round, 96-90 ... New Mexico beat UAB, 97-94, in double overtime in its first game of the tournament.