Turnovers plague UMass women’s basketball in 52-48 loss to VCU

UMass turned the ball over 20 times in the losing effort

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Turnovers plague UMass women’s basketball in 52-48 loss to VCU

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

By Dan McGee, Collegian Staff

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It’s no secret that in the game of basketball, controlling the turnover battle often plays a deciding factor into who wins a ballgame.

For the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, turnovers largely prevented them from pulling off an upset victory over Virginia Commonwealth on Wednesday, falling to the Rams (15-6, 7-1 Atlantic 10) 52-48.

The Minutewomen (11-10, 3-4 A-10) suffered from 20 turnovers in the losing effort, compared to just 12 from the VCU side. Plaguing UMass was the preventability of many of its turnovers, as the Minutewomen committed five traveling violations in the loss.

Known for their defensive prowess, the Rams certainly brought it with them on Wednesday, causing many of the Minutewomen mistakes.

“They did a really good job of pressing us and changing up what they did defensively,” said coach Tory Verdi. “We allowed ourselves to get trapped, just really careless. They forced us to the sideline then we’d step out [of bounds]. High turnovers are really unfortunate. We knew coming into this game that’s what they do, and we just had to limit our turnovers and take care of it. Just to be more confident handling the basketball.”

While turnovers hurt UMass throughout, the Minutewomen were able to prevent the Rams from running away with the game. VCU held its largest lead of nine with 2:25 left in the third quarter, but UMass was repeatedly able to pull the deficit to as little as four throughout the fourth quarter.

The Minutewomen’s rebounding ability largely kept them in the game. Despite VCU having the height advantage, the physicality of UMass allowed it to win the rebounding battle 38-33.

“It’s about going in and making contact with somebody,” said Verdi. “The shot goes up, you have to go find the body to go tag, and then you just have to push them back. We didn’t do that against St. Bonaventure. We preached it and we talked about that. So we worked on it and it was a point of emphasis in this game. We had to box them out. In order to be in this game, we had to match their physicality and we had to box out and rebound.”

While they conquered the rebounding battle, the Minutewomen had no real answer for VCU center Danielle Hammond. Standing at six-foot-four, Hammond was able to score with ease on the smaller UMass defenders, scoring a team high 15 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field.

Not to be missed in the loss was the effort of Hailey Leidel who scored a team high 16 points for the Minutewomen while going 50 percent from the three-point line.

While the result is surely disappointing for UMass, a neck-in-neck loss to a top team shows the potential of the Minutewomen when they compete for a full 40 minutes. Had they limited their turnovers and had a few more bounces go their way, the Minutewomen may have walked out with a victory.

“The effort was great, I’m really happy with our effort and our want-to,” said Verdi. “I feel like a broken record, but I’ve been saying this all along, when we play as hard as we did today, we can play with and beat any team in the conference. It’s just so unfortunate because there’s been past games where we didn’t bring it and we lose to teams that we should beat. It’s a reminder that we need to have some consistency. The number of games left are winding down and hopefully we can get on a roll here.”

The Minutewomen will try to get back in the win column as they head across town to play the Richmond Spiders on Sunday. Tip off is slated for noon.

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