In the second game of its three-game Texas road trip, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team (4-4) couldn’t stop the hot shooting of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (7-2), falling 67-59.
“With their personnel, their strength was 3-point shooting. They had players that were shooting 18 percent on the year from three, shooting five for nine,” said UMass coach Tory Verdi.
The Vaqueros shot a blazing hot 44.8 percent from three, letting them take control of the game throughout. The Minutewomen had no real answer for the play of Quynne Huggins, who scored 17 points off the bench, the majority from the three-point arc.
The Minutewomen could not keep up with the high shooting mark of UTRGV, shooting a poor three for fifteen behind the arc.
“We need to do a better job executing and knocking down shots on the road,” said Verdi.
The inconsistencies beyond the three-point line on the road have been apparent for the Minutewomen. In both of their games from their North Dakota road trip, the team couldn’t shoot higher than a 33 percent clip from three.
The Minutewomen fell behind early in the game, trailing 36-26 at half time. Despite a late fourth quarter comeback attempt, cutting the UTRGV lead to six, it was too little too late for the UMass squad.
“What really affected the game a lot was the turnovers. We had 18 turnovers and they had 27 points off of our turnovers,” Verdi said. “We can talk about the threes that they made, but where they really won the game was points off turnovers.”
The UMass squad forced 16 turnovers of their own in the game, but the resilient defense of UTRGV held the UMass team to only 18 points off turnovers.
Though the UMass team had its weaknesses in the game, forward Maggie Mulligan played well shooting seven for thirteen from the field for 14 points. She played a key factor in defending down low, leading UMass to allow only 12 points in the paint.
The lack of minutes from the UMass bench also played a major factor and could do so again for tomorrow’s game against Mississippi Valley State. Most UMass starters played over 30 minutes in the game, with Mulligan playing a game-high 36.
Freshmen Bre Hampton-Bey and Paige McCormick also played large quantities of minutes, playing 32 and 24 respectively.
The lack of rest could inhibit the Minutewomen in Saturday’s game. A quick turnaround could restrict the availability of some UMass players, and more bench depth will be needed.
Although losing is never the desired outcome from a road game, some positives can be taken from the loss.
“We lost to a good team in a really tough place to play,” Verdi said. “But I think it’ll be better for us down the road and its going to help us grow up, we’ve got a lot of freshmen playing significant minutes for us.”
The Saturday matchup against Mississippi Valley State allows the Minutewomen to clear their head from last night’s loss, and immediately move forward.
“We can’t sit around and think about this, we have to move on to the next game,” Verdi said. “In the next 13 hours we’ll be playing again.”
Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @DMcGeeUMass.