UMass women’s basketball falls to Fordham 74-43, loses seventh straight

By Amin Touri

Maggie Mulligan (1) takes a shot in the Play4Kay game against Davidson in the Mullins Center on Saturday afternoon. (Chris O’Keefe/Daily Collegian)

The nightmare continues for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team as it found itself on the wrong end of a blowout on Saturday, taking a 74-43 drubbing at Fordham to extend its losing streak to seven consecutive games.

Down by just six points at halftime, the Minutewomen (9-17, 3-10 Atlantic 10) struggled to find their footing in the second half, as the Rams (18-9, 9-4 A-10) utilized some tough defense and lights-out three-point shooting to turn the contest from a tight game to a landslide.

“I think it was a tale of two halves,” said coach Tory Verdi, “I thought in the first half we did a really good job of executing our defensive game plan, we had a lot of energy, a lot of focus, we were disciplined. Unfortunately, in the second half, right off the bat, we gave up a couple threes on missed assignments, and we faced adversity, and we never fought back.”

Fordham racked up an enormous 48 points from behind the arc, shooting 53.3 percent from deep to help pull away in the second half. The Rams had four players with double-digit scoring totals, with guards Lauren Holden and Hannah Missry leading the way with 17 points apiece, each knocking down five triples en route to a big win.

Junior Maggie Mulligan and freshman Ryan Holder were the sole bright spots for UMass, with Mulligan logging 10 points and eight rebounds while Holder led the team with 15 points on the day.

Freshman Hailey Leidel had another quiet day for the Minutewomen, putting up just eight points on 3-8 shooting. Though not a terrible day, Leidel’s performance hasn’t quite been the at the level Verdi has been able to expect from his leading scorer, as the standout freshman had been regularly scoring over 20 points per game through the first half of the season.

Turnovers have been a major factor in UMass’ recent struggles, and Saturday was no different, as the Minutewomen coughed up the ball 18 times while Fordham only totaled 12. UMass also only managed six assists, as the Rams picked up 18 on the afternoon.

The loss drops the Minutewomen to 3-10 in conference play and 1-11 on the road, as they continue to struggle through their toughest stretch of the season.

“Well, you just approach every single game like we have to win this game,” Verdi says, “and this is how we’re going to win it. We tell them what we need to do; we go into practice and try to execute our game plan. That’s what we’ve done all along, I think our coaching staff has done a tremendous job in scouting our opponents with the time we’ve invested in that.”

Now reeling and with just three games left on the docket, UMass now looks to close out the season on a strong note and take some momentum into the A-10 tournament in two weeks time.

“[The final three games] are really important,” said Verdi, “but just as important as the seven we just lost. We have to take every single game like it’s our championship game, and my message and what I’ve been preaching to our players is that we can do anything, we just need to get on a roll. For whatever reason, we’re not playing a consistent forty minutes of basketball.”

The Minutewomen head to Richmond on Wednesday, with the hopes of turning in a win to break this skid before returning home to host La Salle on Feb. 19. One more trip to Rhode Island on Feb. 22 will mark the end of the regular season for UMass.
“We’re not going to quit,” Verdi said. “There’s a lot of things you can control, and effort is one of them. We’re not going to quit, and we’re going to keep working hard, and these times will go by.”

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected]