Mulligan looks to continue seven game double-double streak at Hofstra

By Thomas Johnston

Erica Lowenkron/Collegian
(Erica Lowenkron/Collegian)

Going into Wednesday’s contest against Hofstra, University of Massachusetts junior Maggie Mulligan looks like one of the most improved players in all of women’s college basketball, and is currently second in the nation in double-doubles.

Mulligan enters the non-conference affair averaging a double-double, scoring 15.4 points per game and grabbing 12.4 rebounds per game. Those numbers are way up from last season, where she averaged 5.1 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Her 12.4 rebounds per game put her third in the entire country in rebounding average and first in the Atlantic 10 conference. She is also getting it done on the defensive end, leading the A-10 with 2.4 blocked shots per game.

Mulligan has recorded a double-double in each of her last seven games. The only game this season in which she failed to have more than 10 points and 10 rebounds was the opening game against Buffalo. She had just one point and six rebounds.

“[Mulligan’s] been great,” UMass basketball coach Tory Verdi said. “It looks like she could go for days. She runs like a gazelle up and down the court and she needs to do that for us. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”

A team that does not have much size outside of Mulligan, Verdi knows it is vital that she be a consistent force in the paint. Mulligan is able to use her 6-foot-2 height and long arms to her advantage, helping the Minutewomen outscore their opponents in the paint in all but one game this season.

“That’s something we need from her each and every night. There’s no nights off for anyone on this team. That was a task for her and it’s something she needs to do for us each night,” Verdi said.

Mulligan is seeing much more time on the court this season due to the lack of depth on the UMass bench, her minutes jumping from 22.9 per game to seeing just under 35 minutes per contest. This minutes increase has allowed Mulligan to put her full set of skills on display, and she has made the most of the opportunity.

“I’ve been trying to go hard and build my confidence more,” Mulligan said. “I don’t take any plays off.”

Even while having an outstanding year personally, Mulligan is not focused on individual numbers. She is worried about doing what is best for the team each night.

“Personally, it’s not about the stats. It’s about playing hard every minute I’m in the game,” Mulligan said. “The fact that I have those double-doubles is a product of me playing hard in the game, it’s not really a goal. If it happens, it happens.”

Mulligan has excelled in the new offense Verdi brought over from Eastern Michigan. While last year Mulligan was forced to play as a back-to-the-basket player in the post, Verdi has allowed her to be a face-up player, which Mulligan feels better suits her skill set. She thanks both her coaches and teammates for her early season success.

“I think that I have coaches that actually believe in me and teammates that trust me with the ball. It’s a lot of thanks to my teammates,” she said.

Verdi wanted the team to have the mindset of attacking the rim each game and getting the ball into the paint. With Mulligan in the game, his team has been able to execute his game plan.

“Our whole philosophy is to attack the rim and get paint touches and score in the paint whenever you can,” he said. It’s a higher percentage shot. We’ve done a really good job at this.”

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected]