UMass women’s basketball newcomer Genesis Rivera looks to shine in season opener

By Dan McGee

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

Following a 2016 season full of ups and downs, as well as plagued by injury and inconsistent play, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team looks to get off to a hot start against Maine-Fort Kent on Nov. 10.

The Minutewomen recruiting class features seven new players, one being junior transfer Genesis Rivera from Panola College in Carthage, Texas.

Rivera, born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, will be a name to watch on Friday against the Bengals.

The multi-talented guard/forward has shown the ability to slash her way to the hoop, accompanied by a strong three-point shooting ability, allowing Rivera to seemingly score at will.

In Friday’s 79-66 exhibition win against Kutztown, Rivera scored a team high of 24 points in 33 minutes of playing time. Rivera shot a strong 7-for-17 from the field including going 2-for-3 from the three-point line. Rivera also got to the free throw line 10 times, making eight of her attempts. She added to the win by supplying 10 rebounds and five assists, finishing the night with a double-double.

Rivera’s impressive prowess did not stop there.

On Monday, UMass returned to the Mullins Center in a matchup against Flagler, where again Rivera’s play helped lead the Minutewomen to a 75-51 blowout victory.

The transfer displayed an uncanny amount of skill, scoring 19 more points on 7-for-11 from the field. She also added a team-high 14 rebounds for her second consecutive double-double in as many games, in the victory.

“She’s a scorer who can do anything we need her to. Immediately she’s going to impact this team on offense and defense. She’s a great player overall. She’ll help us on scoring and becoming a more aggressive team and overall more effective on offense,” UMass sophomore guard Hailey Leidel said.

Dominating the game isn’t something entirely new to Rivera. After being nominated as a Junior College All-American Honorable Mention last season, she assisted the Venezuelan national team during last year’s National Tournament, leading her team to first place in the Central American Games. Her emphatic play and her average of 16 points per game led her to win the National Tournament MVP title.

“We’ve got seven new faces, and we’re starting three new players who haven’t played in this system,” Minutewomen coach Tory Verdi said.

However, Rivera’s play to this point has shown that her transition has come along smoothly.

In addition to Rivera joining the squad, the new members include freshmen Alexia Allesch, Bre Hampton-Bey, Anil Soysal, Paige McCormick, Autumn Giles and sophomore Vashnie Perry.

Coming off a season lacking depth from the bench, the play of the Minutewomen rookies will be something to monitor going forward. Energy from the bench in the form of youthful underclassmen could allow UMass to preserve the minutes and fatigue of seniors Maggie Mulligan and Leah McDerment, and keep the energy of the team up throughout the season.

Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected]