The UMass Minutemen were down to the Drexel Dragons, who many felt deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament, by 17 points in the second half and, as a six seed, were trying to become the first team to ever make the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden by playing three straight road games. They had the odds stacked against them, but they pulled it out with a furious second-half comeback and terrific late-game defense, winning 72-70.
The Dragons had several chances to try to tie or win the game late, but they all came up short, including several layup attempts on offensive rebounds, their last chance a halfcourt heave close to the buzzer that ended in an airball. Drexel won 27 of their last 29 games, including the first two rounds of this tournament, but couldn't close this one out despite the massive lead. Only one player, senior big man Samme Givens, will not return to next year's squad, and he had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his final collegiate contest.
The Minutemen were led by a heroic performance from Chaz Williams, who scored 20 points off the bench, despite missing the front end of a one-and-one that gave the Dragons a chance to win late in the game. They will play in the tournament semifinals in Madison Square Garden against the winner of Nevada-Stanford, which will be played Wednesday night.
You can find a full NIT bracket here.