NEW YORK — Carrying a team on a 5-foot-9 frame is exhausting.
UMass guard Chaz Williams was looking to get a rest late in Friday night’s game against Temple. But no way would coach Derek Kellogg take him out the way Williams is playing in the Minutemen’s run to the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals.
Williams had his second straight big game back home in Brooklyn, scoring 28 points as sixth-seeded UMass upset the Owls 79-74. The Minutemen sent their rivals out of the A-10 with a loss and advanced to face VCU on Saturday.
“I was just doing what the team needs me to do,” Williams said.
Terrell Vinson added 15 points, including a 3-pointer in the final minute with the shot clock winding down and UMass clinging to a two-point lead.
Conference player of the year Khalif Wyatt shot just 4 for 19 for third-seeded Temple, with Williams one of the players tasked with guarding him. Wyatt was 9 for 10 on free throws to finish with 19 points.
“He’s a tremendous player. He did force a few things,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “But at some point you’re saying to yourself he’s going to get us out of it.”
Temple now heads to Selection Sunday with a bit of nervousness, though the Owls would be far more insecure if not for their win over No. 25 VCU in the regular-season finale.
It was the teams’ 66th meeting, but their last in the A-10 with the Owls leaving to join the Big East’s football schools. The Minutemen upset Temple in the A-10 quarterfinals for the second straight year.
“It’s what we’ve come to expect of the UMass-Temple games dating to a long time ago,” said Kellogg, a former UMass player. “I thought it was another kind of epic battle that we were fortunate enough to make some big plays down the stretch.”
Temple (23-9) led by three with more than seven minutes left when Williams took over late for the second night in a row. The junior guard drove into the Owls defense on five possessions in quick succession.
He drew fouls twice and hit the free throws both times, made two layups, and dished to Cady Lalanne for an inside basket that gave UMass a 67-64 lead with more than four minutes to go.
“Chaz Williams is one of the best players in the conference,” Wyatt said. “He’s relentless. He definitely leads this group. He was real tough down the stretch.”
The Minutemen (21-10) were up 68-66 with less than two minutes remaining when Temple nearly got a steal. Instead, Freddie Riley made a 3-pointer. He also finished with 15 points.
After Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson’s jumper pulled the Owls within 71-68, Will Cummings thought he had a steal of Williams but was called for the foul. Williams made both free throws with 70 seconds left.
Wyatt hit a 3-pointer with Riley’s hand in his face to pull Temple within 73-71 with 55.6 seconds to go.
Hollis-Jefferson had 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. UMass outrebounded Temple 40-23 but committed 19 turnovers.
Williams scored 16 points, with three clutch baskets and a steal in the final minutes, in UMass’ 77-72 win over George Washington in Thursday’s first round.
“I thought last night he waited a little too long to really step on the gas,” Kellogg said. “You know he had his Brooklyn jitters and playing in the beautiful Barclays Center. But tonight he played well.”