Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball hopes to keep turning defense into offense

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(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

Coming off an 85-46 win against Mississippi Valley State that was highlighted by early scoring outbursts and strong defense, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team will try to carry that same intensity into Thursday night’s game against Fisher College.

“We’re playing good basketball. If you take the trip we just came back from, Incarnate Word and Mississippi Valley State were two games that we did good for six out of the eight periods, so one thing I’m looking to see is us being a little more consistent in the fourth period,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said. “We’re shooting the ball well, we’re sharing the basketball, the one thing we need to do is just limit our turnovers.”

The Minutewomen shot 44.4 percent from the field against Mississippi Valley State, with a strong 46.4 percent from behind the arc. Strong three-point shooting can be credited to junior forward Genesis Rivera, who knocked down a remarkable 6-of-6 three-pointers in the first quarter for UMass.

“If everything is going in, I will keep shooting,” said Rivera on the shooting display.

The Devilettes halted Rivera’s three-point barrage in the second half, however, holding her to 1-of-6 shooting during that time.

Rivera played 35 minutes in the game, the most for her in the season so far, and she is proving why she deserves those minutes.

“It all depends on her effort, she needs to understand that she needs to be consistent when she’s out on the floor. You can’t go hard and focus for 10 minutes and then lose focus; that’s a part of her growth and development, understanding what I’m looking for out of her each and every possession,” Verdi said.

The Minutewomen have also done a proficient job forcing the other team to turn the ball over, and then turning those mistakes into easy buckets on the other end.

“Our goal is to fly around, anticipate and get deflections,” Verdi said. “We know that deflections lead to steals and that they will help us push and create our offense.”

UMass freshman guard Bre Hampton-Bey has played a large role in the Minutewomen’s success defensively, as she also leads the conference in steals as an individual with 24 (three per game).

“For me, it’s taking pride in defense, going hard in practice and diving on the floor to get steals,” Hampton-Bey said. “I think it’s something everybody on the team can pick up and take pride in too. One of our goals is to be the best defensive team in the Atlantic 10. It starts in practice, we have to continue to go hard and win on defense and worry about offense second.”

“We need to go out there and be systematic and do what we do, we had a great practice here today so I expect us to go out there and put out great effort and fly around,” Verdi said. “Get deflections, get steals and let the defense create our offense.”

Cam Sibert can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @camsibert.

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