AMHERST, Mass. -- No. 19 Massachusetts staged a late rally to get by Saint Joseph's 66-62 in the Atlantic 10 opener for both teams on Wednesday night. Trailing by nine with 6:27 remaining, the Minutemen (13-1) outscored their visitors from Philadelphia 18-3 over the last 5:57 to pull out the win. St. Joseph's (9-5) saw its five-game winning streak end. Forward Maxie Esho stole the ball from freshman forward DeAndre Bembry in the backcourt and slammed one home with 1:04 left to put the Minutemen ahead for the first time since leading 43-42 with 11:45 left. Guard Langston Galloway then missed a jumper and the ball was tied up on the floor. The arrow gave the ball to UMass. Guard Trey Davis was fouled and made both free throws with 33.1 seconds remaining. Saint Joseph's called a timeout, didn't get what it liked and called another with 20 seconds on the clock. The Hawks could get only a 3-pointer by forward Papa Ndao that missed badly, and that was that. Davis hit 1 of 2 from the foul line with two seconds left. Guard Chaz Williams led the Minutemen with 22 points while Esho came off the bench to score 12 points. UMass trailed by six when Williams appeared to injure his right side when he fell. But he didn't leave the game and promptly started the comeback. Forward Halil Kanacevic led the Hawks, done in by 17 turnovers, with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Galloway had 18 points and Bembry 16 points and eight rebounds. The Hawks survived an 11-2 UMass spurt at the start of the second half that put them behind by six. It was right around this point that Kanacevic, Bembry and Galloway started to take over. Kanacevic scored 10 points in 4:06, an offensive burst that started when he drained a long 3-pointer after two missed free throws. The Hawks jumped to a nine-point lead 7:05 into the game, but the Minutemen turned up the defensive pressure and, fueled by Williams, went on a 10-2 run. The spurt grew to 16-5 and UMass had the lead with 6:06 left in the half. St. Joe's recovered with a 10-2 run to take a five-point lead. The Hawks didn't hit a field goal over the final 4:50 of the half but still took a three-point lead into the locker room. NOTES: UMass G Chaz Williams and St. Joseph's F Halil Kanacevic were freshman teammates at Hofstra before both transferred. ... St. Joe's is at George Mason on Saturday, while UMass hosts St. Bonaventure before playing its next three and five of the next six on the road. ... UMass came in ranked No. 1 in strength of schedule by ESPN, No. 7 by CBS, No. 8 by RealTime RPI, No. 13 by Stat Sheet, No. 19 by Jeff Sagarin and No. 39 by Ken Pomeroy. ... After hitting three 3-pointers, St. Joe's G Langston Galloway needs 18 to pass Matt Carroll (2001-05) and become the school's all-time leader.
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