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January 19, 2018

Minutewomen dominate in season opener, beat Maine-Fort Kent 111-45

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team began its season Friday with a 111-45 blowout victory over Maine-Fort Kent.

“It was a complete game for us offensively,” said coach Tory Verdi.”we took advantage of the game inside and outside and had a balanced scoring attack, leading us to the victory.”

This is the program’s first time scoring 100 points since a December 13th, 1980 victory against Vermont.

After a starting the game off slowly, leading 11-9 with 5:28 remaining in the first, the Minutewomen surged ahead at the end of the first quarter.

“We needed to have a better sense of urgency, within the first three minutes we came out flat,” said Verdi.

The team ended the first and began the second on a 22-4 run that allowed them to push the score to 51-25 at half time.

Senior center Maggie Mulligan dominated the first half with a double-double, putting up 10 points and 10 rebounds. However, the she doesn’t believe she did anything differently during the game.

“I just focused on boxing out and heading to the rim as soon as the shots went up,” Mulligan said. “Other than that, it was pretty much the same as we practiced.”

The interior effort by Mulligan and company allowed UMass to finish the first half with 19 second-chance points, and 26 points in the paint.

The Minutewomen kept the momentum heading into the second half, continuously pouring on the points. Leading the effort was guard Paige McCormick, who scored 10 points within the first six minutes of the third quarter.

The Bengals had no answer to the tenacious defense of a UMass squad that forced 26 turnovers throughout the game, allowing the offense to score 45 points off turnovers.

By growing the second half lead to 65-30 with 5:45 left in the 3rd quarter, Coach Verdi gained the opportunity to play some of the newer faces on the team such as freshmen Alexia Allesch and Autumn Giles.

“Games like this give our freshmen some time on the floor to get comfortable and acclimated to a regular season game,” said Verdi.

The game was all but over at the end of the third, as UMass had built an 81-35 lead.

In the fourth quarter, all nine of the Minutewomen with playing time had entered the scoring column, with all five starters having scored double-digits by the games end.

Another key to the Minutewomen’s victory was their ability to execute at the charity stripe. UMass shot an impeccable 22-22 at the line throughout the game.

“We just have a lot of scorers, so people can’t really just guard any one of us, they really have to respect everyone” said sophomore Hailey Leidel who shot an excellent 6-12 from three in the game.

The Minutewomen shot an impressive 53 percent from the field for the game. Among the notables for UMass, both Mulligan and Genesis Rivera finished with double-doubles. Guards Bre Hampton-Bey and Giles finished with six and five steals, respectively.

“We need to continue to play to our level at all times, no matter who we are playing against. If they’re not as skilled as us we still need to play our basketball,” said Mulligan after the win.

The Minutewomen will look to keep the momentum going on Sunday against Towson.

Dan McGee can be reached at dmcgee@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @DMcGeeUMass.

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