UMass women’s basketball prepares defensively for Wednesday matchup versus Boston University

The Minutewomen are 6-4 on the season

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UMass women’s basketball prepares defensively for Wednesday matchup versus Boston University

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

By Dan McGee, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s basketball team will look to carry its momentum from Friday’s victory versus Incarnate Word into Wednesday’s matchup against Boston University.

The Minutewomen (6-4) take on a Terriers (4-3) team with a potent offensive attack. The Terriers have three different players averaging double-digit scoring totals per game this season, with forward Nia Irving leading the charge with 13.7 points to go along with 7.2 rebounds per game.

While BU’s offensive attack promotes a defensive challenge to the Minutewomen, they know what to expect.

“They execute really well on both sides of the ball number one,” said coach Tory Verdi. “They have personnel, they’re going to play seven. Within their personnel, they all stay within who they are, they never go outside of who they are. Drivers drive the ball, shooters shoot the ball. They’re very structured, very disciplined.

“We’ve got to make sure we do a great job of identifying shooters, know where they are, get a high hand and make them into dribblers.”

While UMass is coming off a win on Friday, the Minutewomen know they have some parts of their game they need to clean up to continue their winning ways. After a generally mistake-free first half of basketball, the Minutewomen suffered from some sloppy play in the second half against Incarnate Word that they’ve tried to fix in practice this week.

“We really focused on our defense and cleaning up some of the mistakes that we had,” said Paige McCormick. “Basically, just defense and focusing on what they’re going to be running and their personnel.”

“It all starts with us creating some havoc defensively,” added Verdi. “We’re going to press them full-court and in the half-court we’re going to do some things where we run and jump and not allow them to get comfortable to execute offensively.”

During the first half of Friday’s game, the Minutewomen pressed the Cardinals consistently, forcing seven turnovers in the first half. In turn, the Minutewomen have looked to improve their transition offense this week.

“We’re trying to get more one-legged layups on misses and open up the floor a little bit,” said Verdi. “We’re going to try and set some on ball screens and then attack the basket. But more importantly we have to make sure on change of possession we get out to the sidelines and fly out to the baselines to put continuous pressure on the defense.”

What bodes well for the Minutewomen in Wednesday’s matchup is their record against similar opponents. Both UMass and BU have played Northeastern and Brown this season. While both teams beat Brown by double-digits, the Minutewomen lost to Northeastern by only a point while the Terriers lost by 30. The Terriers also enter Wednesday’s game with an 0-4 record on the road this season, while the Minutewomen are 4-1 at home.

“We’ve just kind of been working on all-around running through their sets,” said team captain Hailey Leidel. “Knowing how to defend their sets, as well as just knowing how to score against their style of defense. Just kind of focusing on us a little bit before, like making sure we’re scoring. Doing what we normally do.”

At the end of the day, the Minutewomen believe how well they defend the Terriers will ultimately decide their fate.

“We know they’re going to set a lot of screens and they have a couple of shooters that we know they’re going to look for,” said Leidel. “We just have to make sure we’re talking on defense and communicating on where people are and where screens are and all that.

“If we just try to play our style of defense and everyone does their job, we should have no problem with it.”

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