Minutewomen dominate in season opener, beat Sacred Heart 78-61

Hampton-Bey scores 19 in UMass win

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Minutewomen dominate in season opener, beat Sacred Heart 78-61

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

By Javier Melo, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s basketball team started off the season in electrifying fashion, cruising to a 78-61 victory over Sacred Heart.

The Minutewomen (1-0) were carried by their strong defense, forcing the Pioneers (0-1) to commit 15 turnovers and keeping them to just 28 percent from the three-point line and just 37.5 percent from the field. They also managed eight steals and 22 points off turnovers. The strong play on defense transitioned into offense as well, as UMass managed to shoot 41.7 percent from three and 51.5 percent from the field.

The Minutewomen rode the hot hand of sophomore guard Bre Hampton-Bey early, as she put up 15 points in the first half and facilitated well as UMass outscored Sacred Heart 41-23 in the first half. Hampton-Bey finished the game with 19 points on 9-for-16 shooting to go along with five assists and two steals.

“I just pushed the ball in transition, attacked the basket and [was] making sure to create contact so I could finish,” said Hampton-Bey on her performance.

The Minutewomen were in the mood to share the wealth, as four different players scored double-digit points and combined for 21 assists. Joining Hampton-Bey in the double-digit mark were freshman Destiney Philoxy, who put on a show with her flashy finishes and creative handle, finishing with 16 points, junior forward Hailey Leidel, who scored 13 points and redshirt freshman Anil Soysal. Playing in her first career regular season game for the Minutewomen after missing all of last season with a knee injury, Soysal finished with 11 points in just 20 minutes.

“We all just make sure that we’re playing hard at all times,” Hampton-Bey said. “That’ll create offense and it’ll just come to us and help us at the end of games.”

The first half was explosive for the Minutewomen, but Leidel struggled to find her rhythm early. The junior, who was named a captain before the season, started the game with no points in the first quarter, before imposing her presence into the game and creating opportunities for her teammates with the attention the defense was paying to her.

“Teams are going to play me kind of aggressive and not really hop off of me,” Leidel said. “I feel like at first I wasn’t getting a lot of threes. I guess I wasn’t being as aggressive so when I got more comfortable in the second half I was just driving it a lot more. If I’m on the court everyone is yelling ‘shooter’ and nobody is playing off of me at all so that opens up gaps for everyone else.”

The Minutewomen will return to action Sunday when they travel to face Towson at 2 p.m.

Javier Melo can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @JMeloSports.