Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutewomen lose heartbreaker on buzzer-beater three-pointer from Huskies

Minutewomen come up short to undefeated Huskies

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Minutewomen lose heartbreaker on buzzer-beater three-pointer from Huskies

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For the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, Sunday afternoon was a great effort that ended in heartbreak.

With one second left on the clock, Northeastern’s Shannon Todd stunned UMass (5-4) with a three-pointer as time expired to steal the 53-52 win. Todd’s heroics came after the Minutewomen were up nine points midway through the fourth quarter.

Despite the heartbreak at the end, UMass head coach Tory Verdi was positive after the game about his team’s performance against the undefeated Huskies (7-0).

“I thought our team competed,” he said. “Really proud of their effort. It was a great game for us to play on the road against a really good team. We were better than them for 39 minutes and 55 seconds. Really proud of our effort and how hard we played.”

Freshman Asia McCoy looked to have sealed the deal for UMass when she potted a layup off a pass from junior Hailey Leidel with 4.4 seconds left in the contest. But with both teams out of timeouts, Northeastern inbounded the ball, hustled up the floor and put Todd in the position to end it.

“On the last basket we made, instead of sprinting to get back and match up, we celebrated for a quick second – just enough for them to inbound the ball, go up the sideline and hit a shot at the buzzer,” Verdi said. “Again, really proud of our effort. We played really, really hard. We’ll learn from this and hopefully a game like this will help us win some more down the road.”

The Minutewomen’s scoring efforts were led by McCoy’s first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, as well as a team-high 15 points from senior Jessica George. Leidel, who entered the game as UMass’ leading scorer, was held to just four points in 24 minutes of play.

Verdi was certainly appreciative of the secondary scoring after the game.

“The fact that Asia McCoy is a freshman and stepping up into her own and feeling good about what she’s doing – that’s why she’s starting for us now,” he said. “We need that offensive production from her. And then Destiney Philoxy as well. We’re getting points from her.”

“Today they were playing in an environment that was hostile and loud, and again, it will only make us better down the road. We got to get out returners to play a little bit better than they are for us right now.”

One of those returners is Leidel, who is averaging 13.8 points per game on the year but has hit just 27.5 percent from the field in the last three games.

“I’m not worried,” Verdi said. “We’ll score. It’s just that Hailey Leidel is our leading scorer and she can’t have four points and two rebounds for us. If you have open looks, you have to knock them down.”

For UMass, Sunday saw them shoot 36.7 percent (22-60) from the field and 20 percent (4-20) from beyond the arc. On the other hand, Northeastern shot 29 percent (18-62) from the field and 30.3 percent (10-33) from three.

Northeastern’s effort was led by Jess Genco’s 14 points and nine rebounds. Genco also assisted on Todd’s game-winning three.

For Verdi, the key for the Minutewomen going forward is to become more consistent, not letting this buzzer-beating harpoon divert them.

“We talked about it and regardless of who you play, we go back and talk about the North Dakota game, every night you have to come out and play your hardest,” he said. “One of the things about our team is the inconsistency. Our inconsistencies in practice and in the games. We’re trying to figure out who we are, and you also have to understand we’ve been going through transitions like we haven’t had a healthy lineup.

“We have all these moving parts and we’re trying to figure out who we are, and we’ll get there. Is this sickening? Yeah, no question about it. Are we disappointed, mad and have all these emotions? Yes. But the last thing we said to our team was let this fuel you to get better and get back to practice and make yourself and your team better and what it will do will pay off down the stretch for us.”

The Minutewomen hope to use that fuel when they tip off in their next game, against Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Mullins Center.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @emarinofsky.

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