UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday

By Jamie Cushman

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Jong Man Kim/Collegian

Jong Man Kim/Collegian

Coming of its second-highest scoring output this season in its previous game and three days of rest, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team struggled mightily offensively on Thursday, and fell to St. Bonaventure 55-38.

Thirty-eight points marks UMass’ second-lowest total all season, and its lowest point total since the third game of the season.

Minutewomen (9-11, 3-4 Atlantic 10) coach Tory Verdi was disappointed in his team’s lack of execution on offense.

“I think we got outworked for 40 minutes,” Verdi said. “For whatever reason we didn’t come out with the energy and focus and ‘want to’ off the charts that we normally come out with, and that starts with me.”

“Disappointed not the fact that we couldn’t score the ball today, but more disappointed because there was a lack of offensive execution. When you don’t run plays properly and we have people in different spots, there’s a lot of confusion and you saw that here today.”

UMass stayed with the Bonnies (7-12, 2-5 A-10) early and trailed by just one point after the first quarter, in large part due to six turnovers and five missed 3-pointers for St. Bonaventure.

When the Bonnies started to generate some offense in the second quarter, the Minutewomen could not keep up, tallying just seven points in the frame, and took an eight-point deficit into halftime.

“There was a lack of offensive execution and then give them credit for doubling Maggie (Mulligan) and sagging off Leah (McDerment) for the entire game. They took Leah’s defender, stuck her in the key, and that hurt us,” Verdi said.

Freshman Hailey Leidel opened the second half with a pair of layups, but UMass could not string together defensive stops and establish any momentum. After playing an even third quarter, St. Bonaventure outscored the Minutewomen by nine in the final frame.

UMass’ two leading scorers Leidel and Mulligan tallied just six points each, hampering the team’s ability to score and take control of the game.

“Again it starts with lack of execution,” Verdi said. “We didn’t do a good job of attacking them. Every time Hailey came off screens, they chased her, they were there on her catch. We’ve got to do a better job of making contact, waiting for screens, and we’ve got to do a better job of attacking the basket.”

“We’ve had teams switch on us all year, but for whatever reason here today, they were like, ‘we’re not going to allow them to get to the rim, they’re going to have to shoot jumpers.’ And we shot jumpers and obviously, we didn’t covert.”

McDerment and senior Alyx Stiff both put up 11 points to lead the Minutewomen in scoring.

The Bonnies’ rebounding advantage contributed largely to the outcome of the game. St. Bonaventure nearly doubled UMass on the boards, winning the rebounding advantage 35-19.

“You’ve got to go to the boards, and we didn’t do that,” Verdi said. “We’re playing four guards and Maggie, and Maggie can’t do it herself. I felt everybody else was standing and watching, and I don’t know why that occurred. They know their responsibilities and we did not show up here today, and I’m really disappointed in that regard.”

Junior Mariah Ruff and graduate student Gabby Richmond led the Bonnies with seven rebounds apiece, while Mulligan led the Minutewomen with six, tied for her lowest total this season, and just the third time she’s been held to less than 10 boards.

Ruff also led both teams with 17 points, the only member of St. Bonaventure to reach double digits.

UMass wraps up this week-long home stretch with a game against George Washington on Saturday. The Colonials enter the game tied for second in the A-10 with a 5-1 record, 12-6 overall.

Saturday’s tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Mullins Center and will follow the UMass men’s basketball game against Fordham.

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