AMHERST, Mass. - If Terrell Vinson's sneakers were one inch shorter, Massachusetts and La Salle would have gone into overtime last night in an Atlantic Ten Conference game.

La Salle led, 72-69, when UMass' Vinson buried a jumper at the buzzer that looked as if it might be a game-tying three-pointer. But after reviewing replays, the officials ruled it was a two-pointer, which meant La Salle had prevailed, 72-71.

"I thought it looked close to be a three," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "Fortunately, the monitor confirmed [it was a two-point shot].

"The outcome was as close as it could be, and I think it reflected how close the teams were tonight. It was an amazing finish and an amazing game. The teams were separated by probably an inch on that last shot."

In retrospect, two free throws by Tyreek Duren with 10.4 seconds left in regulation made the difference in a game that was marked by a series of runs.

La Salle (18-9, 7-5 A-10) went on a 16-5 run in the second half to take a 60-51 lead. But UMass (18-8, 7-5) countered with a 15-4 run, which gave the Minutemen a 66-64 lead.

"Every team is going to make their run," Duren said. "They went on their run and we went on a run to finish the game, which I think was more important."

Earl Pettis (18) led a quartet of Explorers in double figures with Duren, Jerrell Wright, and Ramon Galloway each scoring 15.

Freshman Maxie Esho scored a career-high 18 points to lead UMass, while Raphiael Putney added 17.

What made the Explorers' victory even more impressive was that it broke UMass' perfect home record (12-0) and resulted in a rare home loss, period. UMass was 33-5 in its last 38 home games.

"It's a big deal," Gianinni said. "When you win at a place where nobody else has, it's a pretty big deal. UMass is having a great year. I admire everything about UMass, which is why we're thrilled to be the only team to win here so far this year."

A first half that was marked by a 9-0 UMass run and a 16-4 La Salle run ended in a 33-33 tie. But after La Salle built that 60-51 second-half lead, the Explorers had all they could do to handle the Minutemen's pressure defenses.

"We would have loved to have put them away," Gianinni said. "They pressed and created some turnovers. But they fought. Their press is outstanding."