"He just needs one," West Virginia coach John Beilein said. "One gets him going. He is a home run hitter for us."
Young made his first, then buried five more threes, including three in a six-minute span at the end of the first half as West Virginia built a 37-23 edge by the break. His last, which tied Chris Leonard's 1992 record of 101 3-pointers in a season, sealed the game at 85-73 with two minutes left after UMass rallied from an 19-point deficit to pull within 74-70 in a game that had the feel of an old rivalry, complete with a boisterous crowd and player trash talk.
"I had a good feeling as soon as I hit my first shot," said Young, who also set a school record for points in the NIT, eclipsing the 30 by Diego McCoy in 1981 versus Tulsa. "I was focused and I kept coming off screens and looked for my shot. During the rally, I told my teammates to calm down. They did and I popped open for a late three."
That ended a late charge by UMass, which down by as many as 19 at 46-27 with 17 minutes left before pulling within four twice, the latter coming just before Young's final three as the senior scored six of WVU's next nine points to push the lead back to double digits and extend his career at least one more game. It was the first meeting between the former A-10 rivals since 1995, when then-No. 1 UMass overcame an 18-point deficit with five minutes left to beat West Virginia in overtime before the Mountaineers joined the Big East.
Those old feelings emerged from the crowd, which was listed at 7,146 but sounded much louder in the back-and-forth affair. Young and UMass shooting guard James Life verbally tangled often, with Life – who once jumped upon the Flying WV logo at midcourt – initiating the conversation after Young had already put up 25 points. That added to the fuel of the return of former Mountaineer-turned-Minuteman Luke Bonner, who played just two minutes and recorded a single rebound and no points, and UMass head coach Travis Ford, who argued often and almost drew a technical foul.
"I'm not one to talk a lot unless someone else starts it," Young said. "He didn't talk the first half, then came out of nowhere. He was trying to take me out of my game, but I wouldn't let it happen."
After Young buried the three to send UMass home for good, he found Life running back down the floor.
"Where you at now!" Young said. There was no answer for the chippy player, who later said that the officiating and other "aspects of the game were unfair."
West Virginia (24-9), the top seed in the East Region, will face the winner of No. 6 N.C. State and No. 7 Marist, played Friday at 9:30 p.m. The Mountaineers beat N.C. State 71-60 earlier this season and are now 15-1 at home this season and 31-2 versus non-conference foes at home under Beilein, in his fifth year. It has won its home games by an average of 19 points and is now 16-4 all-time versus UMass in the Coliseum.
Darris Nichols added 14 points, Da'Sean Butler had 10 and Alex Ruoff had eight points and seven assists for the Mountaineers, which advance to the NIT quarterfinals for the second time in four years after it made NCAA trips to the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 the past two years.
Life led fourth-seeded UMass (24-9) with 20 points and Gary Forbes and Stephane Lasme added added 15 and 14, respectively. Lasme, the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year, also had 14 rebounds for his 14th double-double this season. It was the 22nd of his career.
"They just stayed calm and collected," Life said. "They hit a lot of big shots when they needed them. They have very big 3-point shooters, and they used them."
The Mountaineers (24-9) have won 24 games for just the third time in the last 18 years. The victories tie WVU for the most since it won 26 in 1989. It has yet to trail in two NIT games and is 17-15 in its 15 tournament appearances.
"We're not looking for or making any excuses," Ford said. "We got beat by a really good team. When they made threes, there are not too many teams that can beat them. They have the right players for this system."
The Minutemen, which led the Atlantic-10 in rebounding, managed just a 35-29 edge on the boards against the Big East's second-worst rebounding team. The fast-paced game slowed considerably in the second half as the teams were whistled for a combined 35 fouls. The Mountaineers, which made their first 12 free throws, were in the double bonus with almost 10 minutes left. They finished 16 of 21. UMass, the worst free throw shooting team in the Atlantic-10, missed seven of 17.