March 3, 2007
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Gary Forbes scored 13 points and Massachusetts (23-7; 13-3) earned a share of the Atlantic 10 title for the first time since 1996 with a 71-67 victory over Saint Joseph's (17-13; 9-7) on Saturday.
Saint Joseph's will be either the sixth or seventh seed in the upcoming Atlantic Tournament, with the bracket to be announced after the league's final games Saturday evening.
Forbes scored the go-ahead basket with just under three minutes left, and UMassused a late seven-point run to secure its sixth straight victory and the second seeded position in the upcoming A-10 tournament. The Minutemen lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to co-champ Xavier.
Ahmad Nivins, who missed most of the second half due to foul trouble, scored 18 points for SJU, which lost its third straight.
The Hawks led 63-60 with 3:37 left and were poised to spoil UMass' title hopes. But Gary Lowe stole the ball from the Hawks' Jawan Carter at midcourt and converted a three-point play that tied the game at 63-all.
Stephane Lasme, who leads the NCAA in blocked shots, rejected a shot by Hawks forward Rob Ferguson, and Forbes converted at the other end to put UMass ahead for good.
Saint Joseph's had two chances to tie in the final seconds. UMass' Brandon Thomas missed a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds left and Lasme traveled after grabbing the rebound. Ferguson overshot Carter on the inbounds attempt, giving possession back to UMass. The Minutemen then threw the ball away on their inbounds attempt. After a timeout, Ferguson was unable to connect on a long inbounds pass, and Lasme sealed the win with a free throw.
Ferguson and Pat Calathes each had 12 points for the Hawks while D.J. Rivera had 10 off the bench. Darrin Govens did not dress for the game after aggravating the sprained ankle he suffered on Feb. 22.