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UMass women’s basketball falls apart in the fourth quarter in 71-55 loss to Hofstra

Erica Lowenkron/Collegian

Erica Lowenkron/Collegian

Through three quarters Wednesday night at Hofstra, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team appeared to be on its way to ending a two-game losing streak before the Pride caught fire from beyond the arc, knocking down six 3-pointers and outscoring UMass 30-7 in the fourth quarter in a 71-55 Minutewomen loss.

UMass (4-5) led by nine with nine minutes, 12 seconds left to play before a 30-5 run for Hofstra (5-3) flipped the game on its head, as the Pride shot 6-for-8 from downtown during this stretch after opening the game 5-of-25.

Minutewomen coach Tory Verdi said after the game UMass needs to do a better job when the momentum stops going its way.

“I thought we competed for 30 minutes, did a good job, and kind of imploded in the last 10 minutes, and that’s a sign of youth,” Verdi said. “When we make mistakes we can’t allow that to continuously affect us on the next possessions, and that’s what happened here tonight. We allowed it to snowball and when we face adversity, we need to stand up to it and stop the bleeding, and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

Freshman Ana Hernandez Gil led the 3-point frenzy for Hofstra, knocking down four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, finishing with a team-high 18 points, courtesy of six 3-pointers.

Verdi attributed the Pride’s success from beyond the arc in the final period to the Minutewomen’s inability to slow down the Pride’s ball movement.

“In the first half we were able to keep the ball on one side of the floor and not allow them to swing the ball from side to side,” Verdi said. “For whatever reason we allowed that to happen and you know, once your zone gets shifted and you’re in rotations back and forth, you break down, and for whatever reason we didn’t communicate, we didn’t know where shooters were, and we paid for it dearly.”

Before Hofstra became lighting hot from 3-point range, the Pride’s offensive rebounds and second chance points kept them in the game. Hofstra’s Ashunae Durant entered the game leading the NCAA with nearly six offensive rebounds per game, and improved on that mark with nine against the Minutewomen.

“That’s what started it all,” Verdi said. “One possession has four offensive rebounds that led to a three, and then they hit another three on the next possession again … The ball goes up, there’s five of them and there’s five of us, we’ve just got to do a better job of finding people, boxing out.”

“If you want to win games, and winning’s important to you, then you’ll box out and rebound and I think unfortunately that’s kind of a learning curve here.”

After falling into early holes in its previous two games, UMass started out much better against Hofstra with an 8-0 run over the final 2:39 of the first quarter to stretch its lead to five.

A free throw for junior Leah McDerment and a deep 3-pointer for sophomore Jessica George all in the last three seconds of the half stretched the Minutewomen’s halftime lead to 10 before ultimately falling apart in the second half.

Junior Maggie Mulligan led the Minutewomen with 16 points and 13 rebounds, her eighth-straight game with a double-double. Freshmen Ryan Holder and Hailey Leidel also reached double digits, tallying 12 and 10 points respectively.

UMass added some much needed depth as senior guard Alyx Stiff made her first appearance of the season after starting the season injured, tallying two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

Verdi said the additional depth is important, as the Minutewomen starters have all been averaging at least 34 minutes per game entering Wednesday night.

“We’ve got to work her into the rotation and she’s got to get in basketball shape, and she will. The more depth we have the better off we’ll be, that way we can play for longer minutes, and you know, when you get tired you kind of lose your mind a little bit, and I thought that’s what happened here today,” Verdi said.

UMass will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak when the Minutewomen return home to the Mullins Center on Saturday to host Bryant, with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at jrcushman@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter @Jamie__Cushman.

 

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