Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball falls to Boston University Wednesday night

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

For the second time in the three games, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team could not hold onto a fourth quarter lead, falling to Boston University 64-60 on the road Wednesday night.

After a strong start to the game defensively put UMass (5-6, 0-1 Atlantic 10) up by nine at the half, the BU (2-9) offense came alive following the break, tallying 45 points over the final 20 minutes, outscoring the Minutewomen by 10 in the final period.

For the second straight time in a midweek game, UMass coach Tory Verdi watched his Minutewomen struggle to execute in the fourth quarter when they needed to the most.

“I thought we relatively got off to a good start. I liked our energy, I liked our effort. For some reason in the second half have we stopped being aggressive, we stopped executing to some degree.” Verdi said.

While the Terriers did not sink six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter like Hofstra did a week ago, BU’s two 3’s were enough to sink UMass in a tight final period that featured five lead changes, along with the Terriers shooting 8-for-13 from the field.

“We lost track of 3-point shooters, for whatever reason, and we let them shoot and they obviously made us pay for it down the stretch,” Verdi said. “That’s something we’ve got to do a better job of.”

Guard Sarah Hope did the bulk of the damage from beyond the arc for BU, sinking four 3-pointers on the way to a team-high 16 points, tied with Meghan Green off the bench.

Freshman Ryan Holder led the Minutewomen with 16 points, but she did so on an inefficient 5-for 17 shooting performance, while UMass as a whole shot just 31 percent from the field.

Verdi said shot selection will be an important part of the development of Holder and the young UMass team.

“It’s about being aggressive and taking good, high-quality shots when they give them to you,” Verdi said. “Again that’s something that I think, being a freshman, you’ve got to learn what’s a good shot and what’s not a good shot, and execute a little bit and get high-percentage shots.”

The Minutewomen were the beneficiaries of a large free throw discrepancy, and they took full advantage, shooting 79 percent from the line. UMass shot 29 free throws as opposed to 18 for the Terriers, with eight of those BU attempts coming in the final 1:12 when the trailing Minutewomen started to intentional foul.

Verdi said when you consider its free throw margin, and its 38-32 rebounding advantage, UMass should have found a way to bring home a victory.

“When you shoot 29 free throws and you out-rebound a team, you should technically win that game. So I’m just shaking my head a little bit, and again, it’s a sign of youth, and we’re going to have some growing pains. A lot of these players are playing in these situations for the first time and at the end of the day, we’ve just got to do a better job collectively.”

Redshirt junior Alyssa Lawrence made her first appearance of the season coming back from an injury, tallying 11 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Senior Alyx Stiff scored nine points of the bench in her third game back from injury.

For the first time all season Verdi had access to a full complement of players, leading to a season-high 20 bench points for the Minutewomen, nearly doubling their season total of 29 entering the game.

Verdi said he thinks this ability to use more than five players and get some consistent scoring from the bench will help UMass moving forward, with Lawrence and Stiff being keys to that success.

“For us to play more than five people, we need contributions from Alyssa and Alyx, no question about it,” Verdi said. “So we’ve got to grow our bench, and we’ve got to get those guys in game conditioning here. Once they get that and get more familiar with what we’re doing offensively, the better off we’re going to be down the road.”

The Minutewomen return to Amherst to host Holy Cross on Sunday in the team’s final game before heading down to Florida to play Florida International and Drexel in the FIU Holiday Classic after Christmas.

Sunday’s tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Jamie__Cushman.

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