Scrolling Headlines:

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Dominant defensive performance leads UMass women’s basketball past North Dakota State in home opener

After opening the Tory Verdi era with a loss against Buffalo Friday, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team got its first win of the season Monday night in a 70-58 victory over North Dakota State at Mullins Center.

The Bison (1-1) put up a strong third quarter to make up for being outshot in the first quarter, after UMass (1-1) jumped out to an early 24-7 lead. The Bison opened up the scoring at the start of the second half with a 3-pointer from Taylor Thunstedt, who would sink two more in the quarter.

But with NDSU getting hot and finding rhythm, Verdi had the Minutewomen instill a 2-2-1 press formation to slow down and tire out the Bison. The strategy worked, forcing a couple of turnovers and a shot-clock violation.

According to Verdi, UMass’ first-quarter performance and lock-down defense was the key aspect that led them to victory.

“Our defense creates offense,” Verdi said after his first win with the UMass program. “We’re able to get deflections, steals and then we can push the offense and score in transition.”

The Minutewomen forced 18 turnovers, showing a prominent transition game by outscoring NDSU 14-2 in fast-break points.

Despite being outshot in the second and third quarters, UMass held the Bison to just six points in the final quarter of play to seal the victory.

UMass dominated play in the paint throughout the entire game, outscoring NDSU 46-14. The Minutewomen  players consistently took their defenders to the basket and forced them to foul, often resulting in potential three-point plays.

“Going into the game we knew we wanted to attack the basket,” Verdi said. “I felt against Buffalo we shot a lot of [jump shots], getting to the rim is obviously a high percentage shot and that’s what we wanted to do tonight.”

Freshman Hailey Leidel was the most versatile player on the court, accumulating a season-high 24 points and nine rebounds. She led the team in steals with five and added six assists on the night.

With UMass’ lead down to just six points, Leidel buried a fate-sealing 3-pointer which sparked a 9-0 run for the Minutewomen with six minutes, 59 seconds in the final quarter, her only 3 of the game. After that shot, the Bison didn’t come within single digits for the rest of the game.

“She’s been very consistent for us and she needs to be,” Verdi said. “She filled up the stat sheet tonight, so she did a really great job for us and hopefully that continues.”

Leidel, who was awarded Atlantic 10 rookie of the week, acknowledged that in their game against Buffalo, UMass forced a lot of turnovers but failed to convert points off of them. Heading into Monday, she knew her team had to capitalize.

“Everyone’s been working really hard,” Leidel said. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity but we’re coming together and having a win really is just the cherry on top.”

Mollie Walker can be reached at and followed on Twitter at MWalker2019.

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