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updated: 12/29/2012 5:59 PM

UMass holds off Huskies 64-59

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Assocaited Press

DEKALB -- Maxie Esho scored 14 points as Massachusetts held off Northern Illinois 64-59 Saturday for its fifth straight victory.

Chaz Williams added 12 points for the Minutemen (8-3), Freddie Riley had 11 and Terrell Vinson 10.

Abdel Nader led Northern Illinois (2-10) with 15 points and nine rebounds. Aksel Bolin added 11 points and Akeem Springs had 10.

Massachusetts broke open a close game by outscoring the Huskies 12-2 over the final 5:17 of the first half to take a 36-23 lead.

The lead remained in double figures for most of the second half until Northern Illinois went on a 12-4 run to pull within 55-52 with 4:03 remaining. The Huskies got within two, 61-59, when Nader hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left, but the Minutemen hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

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