Amherst, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Cady Lalanne scored 17 points and No. 22 Massachusetts pulled away in the second half en route to an 80-54 rout of Northern Illinois that kept the Minutemen unbeaten.
Raphiael Putney and Clyde Santee each added 13 points for the Minutemen (9-0), who extended the program's best start to a season since the 1995-96 squad opened with 26 consecutive wins on the way to a Final Four appearance that was later vacated.
"UMass is a very, very good team," said Northern Illinois head coach Mark Montgomery. "They have a lot of weapons and you have to give them credit."
Dontel Highsmith paced Northern Illinois (3-5) with 10 points, the lone Huskie in double figures.
UMass led nearly wire-to-wire, though a sloppy beginning the second half enabled the Huskies to pull within 41-33 on a Highsmith layup with 16:24 left to play.
The Minutemen turned the ball over four times over the initial five minutes of the period and didn't make a second-half field goal until Trey Davis buried a 3-pointer with 13:33 to go. Lalanne then came up with a steal on the other end which led to a Maxie Esho dunk, capping an 8-0 run that put Massachusetts ahead by a 52-35 margin.
"We were hanging around 6-8 minutes into the second half," said Montgomery. "We got back-to-back stops but we couldn't get back-to-back makes. It's difficult when you are playing catch-up, down 12 at the half, and you need multiple stops and multiple baskets."
A 7-2 spurt -- ignited by a Chaz Williams three and ending with a pair of Esho baskets -- not long afterward extended the Minutemen's margin to 67-44 with under seven minutes remaining. Northern Illinois never got closer than 19 points down the rest of the way.
Putney got UMass off to an excellent start, draining three consecutive triples during an 11-0 surge after the Huskies recorded the game's first bucket. The lead was 14 points following a Putney dunk that put NIU in a 19-5 hole eight minutes in.
The Minutemen stayed in front comfortably throughout the first half, with Williams sinking a 3-pointer in the final minute to send Massachusetts into the break owning a 40-28 advantage. Lalanne and Putney each netted 13 points during the session, with the duo shooting a combined 11-of-16 from the floor.
UMass tied a season best with nine made 3-pointers and outrebounded the Huskies by a 41-27 count ... Williams and Esho each finished with 12 points ... Northern Illinois shot just 37 percent overall and went 9-of-17 from the foul line ... The Minutemen have won all three matchups between the schools, including a 64-57 decision in DeKalb last season.