With Chaz Williams off on his shooting, the University of Massachusetts was happy to let Derrick Gordon lead the way.
Gordon scored 20 points as the Minutemen squandered nearly all of a 13-point lead before holding off Nebraska, 96-90, in the opening game of the Charleston Classic on Thursday in Charleston, S.C.
Williams, a senior, had come in averaging better than 21 points per game this season. But he was swarmed by Nebraska’s aggressive defense and happily passed off to teammates.
‘‘I lean on those guys as much as they lean on me,’’ Williams said as the Minutemen improved to 4-0 for the third time in four seasons. UMass will play No. 19 New Mexico on Friday.
Gordon made eight of his 13 shots, grabbed four rebounds, and had a pair of steals. He also forced a crucial charging call on Nebraska’s Deverell Biggs with a minute to go after the Cornhuskers (3-1) had cut a 13-point UMass lead to 91-88.
Trey Davis extended the lead to 93-88 on two foul shots moments later and UMass held on for the victory.
‘‘It felt good,’’ Gordon said. ‘‘We won the game and I just wanted to do whatever it took, defensive rebounds, taking the charge, getting the steal, whatever.’’
UMass coach Derek Kellogg was happy to see others on the team step up in big spots. And he loved the way Williams handled things.
‘‘He actually kept his cool, played within the context of the game and ran the show when he was out there, which was good to see,’’ Kellogg said.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles said UMass came out more aggressive at the start of each half, putting the Cornhuskers in a hole as the game wore on.
‘‘I thought we forced them into some tough shots, but ultimately we weren’t physical enough to end the possession,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s really what cost us the game.’’
Sampson Carter scored 16 points, Cady Lalanne 15, Maxie Esho 13, and Raphiael Puntey 12 for UMass. Williams, the Minutemen’s leading scorer this season, managed just seven shots and finished with 10 points.
The Minutemen used strong runs at the start of each half to put Nebraska on its heels. UMass started the game on an 11-3 run and opened the second half with an 18-10 surge to lead, 60-49. Each time, though, Nebraska got back in it.
Texas Tech transfer Terran Pettaway led the Cornhuskers with a career-high 28 points.
New Mexico 97, UAB 94 — Cleveland Thomas hit a 3-pointer with 39.5 seconds left in the second overtime to give the No. 19 Lobos (3-0) the lead for good in a wild victory over the Blazers (3-1) in the Charleston Classic.
New Mexico forced overtime on Kendall Williams’s desperation 3-pointer as time ran out to tie it at 75. Then Alex Kirk hit a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in the first overtime as New Mexico dug its way out of an 86-81 hole for another period.
Florida State 85, Va. Commonwealth 67 — Ian Miller scored 22 points and Devon Bookert added 18 to help the No. 18 Seminoles cruise past the No. 10 Rams at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan.
Florida State (4-0) took control late in the first half and then used an 11-0 spurt to open the second half. The Seminoles face Michigan on Friday in the second round.
Treveon Graham had 14 points to lead Virginia Commonwealth (3-1), which was denied its first 4-0 start since the 1993-94 season.
Michigan 85, Long Beach State 61 — Nik Stauskas finished with 23 points, Caris LeVert had 20, and the No. 14 Wolverines made a tournament-record 14 3-pointers in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Michigan led by 18 in the first half, before its lead was trimmed to 10 with nine minutes to play. But the Wolverines held on thanks to the long-range jumpers from Stauskas and LeVert.
Wisconsin 88, Bowling Green 64 — Ben Brust scored 19 points to lead six Badgers in double figures as No. 12 Wisconsin (5-0) won in Madison.
Spencer Parker led the Falcons (1-2) with 17 points and Jehvon Clarke added 15.
Gonzaga 90, Washington State 74 — Kevin Pangos had 27 points and Drew Barham added 17 as the No. 13 Bulldogs topped the visiting Cougars (2-1).
Pangos shot 8 of 13 from the field, including 5 of 8 on 3-pointers for Gonzaga (4-0).
Florida 79, Middle Tennessee 59 — Patric Young scored 16 points, one of six Gators in double figures, and No. 16 Florida rolled.
The Gators won their 19th consecutive game at home, this one thanks to a dominant start to the second half. Florida (4-1) came out of the locker room and outscored the Blue Raiders, 18-6, over the first 5½ minutes.
Marquette 58, New Hampshire 53 — Chris Otule and Todd Mayo each scored 16 points to help the No. 25 Golden Eagles (3-1) withstand a scare from the Wildcats in Milwaukee in the first meeting between the teams.
Patrick Konan had 14 points and 10 rebounds for New Hampshire (2-2). Chris Pelcher, the reigning America East player of the week, managed only 6 points and fouled out with 9:41 left.
Wagner 68, Vermont 61 — Kenneth Ortiz scored 15 points to lead four players in double figures for the Seahawks as they held off the visiting Catamounts.
Wagner (3-2) jumped out to a 35-22 lead at the half, but Vermont clawed its way back into the game. The Catamounts knotted the score at 57-all with just over three minutes left, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Clancy Rugg had 18 points and nine rebounds for Vermont (1-4), but fouled out with just under three minutes to play. Brian Voelkel added 7 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists.
BC 89, Florida International 69 — Senior Kristen Doherty netted 19 points and reached the 1,000-point mark for her career as the host Eagles cruised past the Golden Panthers.
Nicole Boudreau added 14 points, and Kat Cooper, making her first career start, had 11 points and a career-high eight rebounds for BC (2-2).
Jerica Coley pumped in 36 points on 10-of-28 shooting to lead Florida International (0-4).
Duke 88, Vanderbilt 69 — Tricia Liston scored 18 points and Alexis Jones had 17 to lead six players in double figures for the No. 2 Blue Devils in a rout of the visiting Commodores (3-2).
Chelsea Gray added 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 12 assists for Duke (4-0).
Louisville 90, Ohio 33 — Shoni Schimmel scored 13 points and the No. 4 Cardinals (5-0) made Jeff Walz the program’s winningest coach with a blowout victory in Louisville, Ky. Walz is now 153-65 at Louisville.
Kentucky 116, Lipscomb 49 — Bria Goss scored 18 points and Janee Thompson had 16 as the No. 7 Wildcats (5-0) used a balanced offense to crush the visiting Lady Bison.
Baylor 99, Savannah State 31 — Odyssey Sims scored 22 points and the No. 9 Lady Bears (4-0) extended their nation-best home winning streak to 61 games with a blowout of the Lady Tigers.