Charleston, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Raphiael Putney scored half 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 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 ended it with another slam with 1:43 to go for a 77-61 cushion.
UMass cruised to the finish from there.
"I thought UMass played really well," said New Mexico coach Craig Neal. "I'm really impressed with how hard they play. We got it to 61-61 and kind of let it get away from us."
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 3-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.
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.