BOSTON -- The cavalry came a little late, but it did come.
After a sloppy first half, during which they played to their opponent’s strengths rather than their own, the University of Massachusetts Minutemen muscled their way back into the game in the second half Sunday against Boston College and then shot the lights out in an 86-73 win.
Trailing at the half, UMass coach Derek Kellogg told his team it needed to increase the pressure, get to the rim and hit open shots in the second half. The Minutemen did just that, coming from down nine at one point to win going away in their season opener, the second game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic tripleheader, behind point guard Chaz Williams, forward Sampson Carter and center Cady Lalanne.
The Minutemen shot 61.8 percent from the floor in the second half to finish at 49.2 percent for the game, had twice as many points in the paint (52-26) and outrebounded the Eagles 44-27.
“The kid Lalanne just absolutely demolished us on the boards,” BC coach Steve Donahue said. “Obviously I’m very disappointed but I give UMass credit. Right now, that’s the way to beat us.
“He just kind of bull-rushed us. Took the ball off us like he should and put it in the basket. Honestly, I don’t know how to judge him as an overall player. But I’ll tell you this, I think he has great desire. I don’t know what his skill level is, but I know he can play as hard as heck. I think he smelled blood and he took advantage.”
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Lalanne had game highs with 27 points and 12 rebounds. He scored on putbacks, he scored on lobs and he scored at the line (3-for-4).
“They all tell me you've got to make sure you dominate every game,” Lalanne said of his teammates and coaches. “So that was my mindset coming into the game.”
Though Ryan Anderson had a big first half for BC, with 15 points and six rebounds, the Eagles had no real answer for Lalanne in the second half.
“I actually didn’t realize he had 27 and 12, I thought it was like 15 and 9,” Kellogg joked. “The reality is I expect a lot out of Cady. I’ve seen what he’s capable of doing, and I expect him to play like he did tonight just about every time out. Maybe not 27 and 12, but with that ferocity and kind of getting rebounds around the basket.
“I was happy for him. I think he deserved this and now he’s got to build on that on Tuesday and continue through a whole season.”
UMass hosts LSU Tuesday at 11 a.m. (ESPN2) as part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.