NEW YORK - La Salle shrugged off a rough start against a Massachusetts team that seemed to have its number, but the Explorers kept their basketball season alive.
Ninth-seeded La Salle trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, but sophomore guard Jordan Price finished with 28 points to spark a 76-69 victory over the eighth-seeded Minutemen in the second round of the Atlantic Ten tournament Thursday at the Barclays Center.
The Explorers (17-15) will meet top-seeded Davidson in a quarterfinal Friday at noon. La Salle lost, 77-69, to Davidson on Feb. 14 at Tom Gola Arena.
La Salle committed just eight turnovers and stood up to a physical UMass frontcourt, led by 6-foot-10, 253-pound senior Cady Lalanne, who had 17 points and 16 rebounds. UMass beat La Salle twice in the regular season.
"I thought, again, the physicality really bothered us in the first two games," La Salle coach John Giannini said.
Besides Price, La Salle received 12 points and 13 rebounds from center Steve Zack and 16 points from guard Cleon Roberts. Freshman Johnnie Shuler, who entered the game averaging 2.1 points, played a key role by scoring six points on two three-pointers in 10 minutes off the bench.
The Explorers made 25 of 33 free throws.
"In this game, we got to the free-throw line more because we were going through the contact," Giannini said. "We were just playing a little bit stronger."
La Salle had its biggest lead, 58-49, when Khalid Lewis scored on a driving layup with 6 minutes, 43 seconds left.
After UMass (17-15) cut the margin to 64-63 on a Donte Clark three-pointer with 2:05 left, Lewis hit a backbreaking three-pointer from the corner with 1:29 remaining.
"The play that was kind of a gut-wrenching punch in the face, stomach - whatever you want to call it - was the three in the corner with the shot clock winding down," said UMass coach Derek Kellogg.
Price tied a La Salle record for most points in an A-10 game, joining Rasual Butler (March 8, 2002) and Mike Cleves (March 7, 2002).
But Price said the difference was on the defensive side of the ball.
"Getting stops, just multiple stops in a row," he said when asked to name the key. ". . . You know, defense leads the offense, and that's what happened tonight for us."