UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79.

By Dan McGee

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team dropped a tough game to Saint Joseph’s on Saturday, losing 84-79.

The Minutewomen started out the game against the more seasoned Saint Joseph’s squad by playing aggressively and determined. They began the first half consistently matching baskets with the Hawks and scoring quickly into their possessions by cutting to the basket.

Though the Minutewomen (8-9, 0-4 Atlantic 10) held a 46-40 lead at half time, they were outscored 25-12 in the third quarter, which ended up being the deciding factor in the game.

“I think they did a better job of being a bit more physical,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said. “We stopped being aggressive, and we started settling for jumpers instead of staying aggressive. Our objective was to get 20 to 25 free throw attempts in the game, but in the second half we didn’t do a great job of attacking the rim.”

UMass was on pace to meet its goal having tallied 11 free throw attempts in the first half. However, in the second half, the lack of aggression by the Minutewomen allowed them to get to the charity stripe only six more times.

The Minutewomen held the advantage shooting the ball in the game, shooting a strong 49.2 percent compared to Saint Joseph’s 47.7 percent. However, the ability for Saint Joseph’s (9-8, 4-1 A-10) to shoot the three ball more consistently allowed them to take advantage of the game.

The Hawks shot 12 for 26 from beyond-the-arc, compared to the Minutewomen who mad six of their 15 3-point attempts. Saint Joe’s also distributed the scoring well with five players tallying double digits in the scoring column.

Perhaps the biggest difference maker in the game however was the rebounding. Saint Joe’s dominated the boards, outrebounding the Minutewomen 41 to 24.

“This is probably one of the best rebounding teams in the conference,” Verdi said. “When you look at it, they’re just physically bigger and stronger than we are. We tried to combat it by getting low and driving them, but they’re seasoned with a lot of seniors. They came out in the second half with a sense of urgency and played a lot more physical than us.”

Though the team suffered a tough loss, freshman Bre Hampton-Bey had a career game. Hampton-Bey scored a career high 26 points and added on to the effort with eight assists and three steals. Verdi believes Hampton-Bey’s play shows promise for the team moving forward.

“Obviously as a freshman scoring 26 points and having a game like that shows you the types of players that were bringing into our program,” Verdi said. “We wish that was every night, but there’s a maturation process and it takes time. Eventually we’ll get there.”

Though the Minutewomen have opened to a 0-4 start in their A-10 play, the team isn’t in panic mode. Knowing they’ve stayed competitive with some of the best teams in the conference is has built up the team’s confidence.

“We’re playing the best teams in the conference,” Verdi said. “Playing Fordham, St. Joes, Duquesne and St. Louis, especially having five of our first eight games on the road, it’s a tough schedule but regardless we have to play them. I think we’re right there with the best teams. We just have to continue to work hard and hopefully come out on the other side.”

The Minutewomen will fly to Missouri for Thursday’s matchup against St. Louis, tipping off at 8pm.

Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @DMcGeeUMass.