Morgan's magic lifts UMass.
AMHERST - If ever a game belonged to one player, it was Wednesday night's matchup between UMass and Ohio University, and the player was Jesse Morgan.
The junior guard scored 35 points on 12-of-18 shooting, turning UMass' momentum around twice as the Minutemen (6-3) defeated Ohio, 85-76, at the Mullins Center.
Morgan's performance followed his worst of the season when he scored just three points against Elon on Saturday. His total is the most by an Atlantic 10 player this year.
"It was real fun," Morgan said with a big smile. "I've got to give it to my teammates and coach. They put me in the right positions and I did what I'm supposed to do. It was a fun game, and I'm glad we got the win."
His first run was his most dramatic. After Ohio opened with an 18-6 lead less than five minutes in, Morgan hit a long jumper to kick-start a 23-1 spurt, with the junior accounting for 18 points. He finished the half with 22.
His second run was shorter but had more of an impact. UMass led by as many as 11 in the first half, but the Bobcats climbed back thanks to a number of scoring threats, including D.J. Cooper (23 points), Walter Offutt (18) and Nick Kellogg (15).
Cooper tied it at 53-53 with a 3-pointer 4:50 into the second half, and it was tied at 55-55 when Morgan hit his fifth trey of the night.
That started an 11-0 run that included two more Morgan 3-pointers to give UMass a 66-55 lead.
"It's huge. I've seen him do that before, and to see him do it now in a college game was really kind of uplifting for the team," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.
The Minutemen were also bolstered by solid defense in the paint, particularly when Maxie Esho and Cady Lalanne came in off the bench. Lalanne had 12 points and 11 rebounds while Esho did a little bit of everything - rebounding, blocks, steals and scoring (7 points).
NAME: UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS