Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass grinds out win over conference opponent La Salle

Jessica George’s 17 points lead Minutewomen

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UMass grinds out win over conference opponent La Salle

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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A strong fourth quarter by the Massachusetts women’s basketball team secured a road victory, as the Minutewomen battled their way to a 74-60 win over a struggling La Salle on Sunday.

The UMass (10-7, 2-1 A-10) defense stifled La Salle (3-14, 0-3 A-10) down the stretch, allowing only 10 points in the final frame while scoring 21 of their own, stretching their lead from three at the beginning of the quarter to 14 by the time the final buzzer sounded.

“We didn’t play particularly well through three periods,” said head coach Tory Verdi, “but I’m really proud of our team. We fought through some adversity and were able to execute, especially in the fourth period and separated ourselves from La Salle.”

Nearing the end of the first half, La Salle hung within striking distance, down just two points. After an air-ball by La Salle and the clock winding down, UMass guard Asia McCoy pushed the ball down the floor to try to get the Minutewomen one last shot before the break. As the clock expired McCoy heaved a half-court attempt that fell, giving UMass a five-point cushion heading into the half.

“That’s exactly what we should do,” Verdi said of the play. “We got a defensive rebound with four seconds to go and Asia just took three dribbles and threw it up and you never know, and obviously it went in for us today.”

Senior Jessica George led the way scoring for the Minutewomen with 17 points. George was far from the only offensive threat for UMass as four scorers tallied double-digits.

“She was aggressive offensively,” Verdi said of George’s play. “Our guards have done a pretty good job of attacking and kicking the ball out to her, and she’s been knocking down threes.”

One of those scorers was Hailey Leidel, who contributed 16 points of her own. On top of Leidel’s 16 points, the junior also added 10 rebounds to complete her double-double.

“Hailey Leidel was able to knock some threes down to carry us home for the win,” Verdi said.

The Minutewomen’s three-point shooting helped propel them throughout the game, especially in the second half as they extended their lead. The team shot 40.9 percent from behind the arc for the game and 54.5 percent in the second half.

The Explorers stayed close throughout the afternoon thanks in large part to the play of Rayshel Brown. Brown scored 14 points on 7-13 shooting to lead the way for La Salle.

The Minutewomen dominated the Explorers on the glass to the tune of a 42-26 rebounding edge. The huge rebounding advantage meant only two second-chance points were surrendered to La Salle on the afternoon, cutting down on the Explorers’ chances to get back into the game late.

“[A-10 wins] mean the world,” Verdi said. “We’re still building as a program.”

The road win improves the Minutewomen to 2-1 in the Atlantic 10 heading into another conference matchup on Wednesday against George Mason. The game is set to tip off at noon at the Mullins Center.

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @noah_bortle

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