Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutewomen top Central Connecticut 74-59

Coach Verdi wins 100th game of his coaching career

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Minutewomen top Central Connecticut 74-59

(Daily Collegian/Katherine Mayo)

(Daily Collegian/Katherine Mayo)

(Daily Collegian/Katherine Mayo)

(Daily Collegian/Katherine Mayo)

By Javier Melo, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s basketball team showed some dominance in their 74-59 win over Central Connecticut Saturday.

“I thought we jumped out in the first half and did a lot of good things,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said. “We did a really good job of running to score the basketball. We dictated on both sides of the ball. We were playing really, really well. We played our style.”

UMass (2-1) controlled the pace in the first half, outscoring Central Connecticut (0-4) 38-25 and holding them to just 35% overall from the field. The Minutewomen could not be contained, shooting 43% from the field and going to the free throw line a staggering 17 times in the first half.

The momentum did not carry into the second half for UMass, as the third quarter saw the Minutewomen struggle to hit shots, going 26% from the field. In the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils went on a run against a gassed UMass squad, though it was quickly spoiled by senior guard Jessica George, who hit a pair of three pointers.

“Our last game we didn’t play well and we got beat by a lot so we knew coming out this game was our bounce-back game,” said Hailey Leidel on the strong play in the first half. “We wanted to come out and end it in the first half.

“I think we got a little complacent,” added Leidel on the second half inconsistencies. “We controlled the tempo for most of the game so we kind of got too comfortable. We just weren’t playing with enough energy like we would’ve wanted throughout the whole game.”

Overall the Minutemen shot a whopping 34 free throws for the game and connected on just 67% of them. Even though the percentages were low, the staggering amount of free throws UMass were able to take spoke volumes to the aggression that they played with.

“Every game we have a goal to shoot at least 25 free throws,” said Leidel. “Just being aggressive is the overall theme of that. Just making sure we’re attacking the basket and trying to get as many calls as possible.

“As a team we need to shoot better from free throws,” the junior added. “I know we’ve had a couple of game where we shot really well, but we’re kind of inconsistent so we need to keep working on them and just stay focused and know that we can knock them down.”

Entering the game UMass certainly had their hands full with Blue Devil guard Kiana Patterson, who was averaging 20 points per game heading into Saturday’s contest. Jessica George was tasked with guarding Patterson and managed to hold her to just nine points.

“I said focus and keep with the game plan,” said George on her performance. “Coach Verdi talked a lot about shutting number four [Patterson] down, which was their leading scorer. That was my main focus, was shutting her down and everything else just worked out.”

The victory for the Minutewomen counted as Verdi’s 100th win of his coaching career. After a four year stint at Eastern Michigan University, which saw Verdi capture 72 victories, he joined UMass and has improved the team every season since his arrival.

“It means I’ve got 900 to go,” said Verdi on the landmark achievement. “Hopefully I can be doing this for a long, long time. I’ve been privileged to coach a lot of good players throughout my career. It’s a number and hopefully we’ll come back here and get 101 here in a couple of days.”

The Minutewomen are back in action Tuesday night, hosting UT Rio Grande Valley at 7p.m. in the Mullins Center.

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

 

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