Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey falls flat in 5-0 loss to Northeastern -

January 20, 2018

UMass women’s track and field takes first, men fourth at Joe Donahue Games -

January 20, 2018

Sanzo: UMass’ game vs. St. Louis is a sign of what it is without its grit -

January 20, 2018

UMass men’s basketball gets blown out by Saint Louis, 66-47 -

January 20, 2018

UMass hockey shuts down No. 8 Northeastern with 3-0 win -

January 19, 2018

Matt Murray hands Northeastern its first shutout of the season -

January 19, 2018

Minutewomen stunned by last-second free throw -

January 19, 2018

UMass hockey returns home to battle juggernaut Northeastern squad -

January 18, 2018

Slow start sinks Minutemen against URI -

January 17, 2018

UMass three-game win streak snapped in Rhode Island humbling -

January 17, 2018

Trio of second period goals leads Maine to 3-1 win over UMass hockey -

January 16, 2018

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Senior Day highlights lack of bench presence for UMass women’s basketball

Before tip off against La Salle Sunday, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, faculty and family honored its two seniors, Alyx Stiff and Megan Burke. The pair was called to center court with their families to be acknowledged for their dedication and commitment to the program.

Though the Minutewomen (9-19, 3-12 Atlantic 10) were only supposed to have one senior this season, the surprise addition of soccer star Megan Burke doubled the senior presence on the team.

“We were in a desperate situation,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said. “Our roster numbers were dwindling.”

After sending an email blast throughout the athletic department, Verdi recalls Burke’s name consistently being brought up. Her competitive drive, positive attitude and work ethic made Verdi’s decision a simple one, extending a spot for her on the team after her first walk-on practice.

“It’s just as special,” Burke said when asked what is felt like to have a second Senior Day. “You just enjoy the moment and take it in.”

Senior Day saw another last-minute defeat against the Explorers, similar to the first meeting Jan. 25. The Minutewomen saw both games slip through their fingers in the final quarter of play, losing both games by a combined nine points.

Being such an important game, Burke played just five minutes in the team’s second to last game of the season.

“I just have fun,” Burke said. “Senior night is always a good time for everyone.”

Stiff, on the other hand, played 32 minutes, scoring four points and adding two assists and two rebounds. Verdi said, “her ability to stretch the defense and knock down shots,” will be what he misses most about her.

The two lone seniors highlight the program’s rebuilding stages. The lack of player depth has plagued the Minutewomen all season long with eight of their losses being determined by six points or fewer.

“I think there’s a direct correlation, with a majority of our losses,” Verdi said. “You have teams that can go eight, nine, even ten [players] deep and we go six [players deep].”

Verdi gives his players credit where it’s due, acknowledging that playing under such conditions takes a toll on the body.

“We’re unable to sub where we need to,” Verdi added. “It obviously affects us on both sides of the ball.”

The fatigue is noticeable in the box score with La Salle outrebounding the Minutewomen 43-29. The Explorers also dominated second chance points, 19-2.

Though the most pressing statistic of the game correlates to both team’s bench points. The visitors had 42 of their final 57 points stem from their bench players. Sophomore Jessica George anchored UMass’ sole two points for reserves.

“Fatigue has been an issue for us all year long, when we don’t have numbers,” Verdi said. “You look at what they’re able to do with points off their bench and what we’re able to do.”

“It’s an area we’re going to address in the off-season.”

Mollie Walker can be reached at molliewalker@umass.edu  and followed on Twitter @MWalker2019.

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