Bench unit the key to UMass women’s basketball’s win over Richmond

Reserves score 27 points

Photo+by+Judith+Gibson-Okunieff
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Bench unit the key to UMass women’s basketball’s win over Richmond

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

By Javier Melo, Collegian Staff

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The strong play of the bench unit was instrumental for the Massachusetts Women’s Basketball team as they broke their four-game losing streak with their victory over Richmond, 64-38.

The Minutewomen (14-15, 6-9 Atlantic 10) started the game on the right note, taking advantage of every opportunity that the Spiders (8-20, 5-10 A-10) gave them. Things started rolling for UMass just midway through the first quarter, when freshmen Destiney Philoxy and Jessica Nelson checked in.

“A ton of bench production is great to have,” said UMass coach Tory Verdi. “The fact that Jess Nelson contributed 10 [points] and Destiney Philoxy contributed 11 [points]. Getting that from those guys is extremely valuable and hopefully we can continue it moving forward with the biggest game of the year coming in on Saturday.”

Philoxy and Nelson would combine to score 21 points and were a menace of a tandem on the glass for UMass, accounting for a combined 13 of the Minutewomen’s 41 rebounds.

The Minutewomen bench outscored the Richmond bench 27-11 and Philoxy and Nelson were the keys to that staggering differential.

“I think the bench played really good,” said senior Jessica George. “Everybody contributes to the team a different way and I feel like whether you’re a starter or a bench player you know you can still come in and score as many as you want. For Destiney and Jess, they played amazing. I love seeing them hyped up. I love seeing them make buckets. As a teammate, I’m hyping them up. Overall, I think they did really great.”

Philoxy has caught fire for the Minutewomen as of late. She’s coming off of back-to-back games of 20+ points and followed it up with another strong performance Wednesday.

Philoxy took complete control over the offense for the Minutewomen when she was on the floor. After being given an opportunity to start, she returned to her role on the bench and has shown a growth that wasn’t there a few weeks ago. She’s more poised, more explosive and less prone to bad decision-making.

“The sky’s the limit for her,” expressed Verdi about Philoxy. “I think she’s ultra talented. The future is so bright for her. I think she’s getting more confident and obviously she’s going out of the court and making things happen. The fact that she can not only score the ball, but pass the ball, I mean she had 6 assists here today, impacts the game highly.”

The tandem of Philoxy and Nelson is one that UMass will see for years to come. Throughout the game, Philoxy was routinely driving into the paint and searching to give Nelson a pass for the bucket.

Both being freshmen, they show just how bright the Minutewomen’s future really is.

“Jess is my right-hand man,” said Philoxy about her relationship with Nelson. “I can’t go right [with the ball], so I know that if I go left, she’s on the right side. So if I go for a layup or whatever, I see her on my right side. We have that connection. Before the game, we work on it. We work on screens in practice, being on the same team. I let her know, like, ‘I’m going to hit you high, I’m going to hit you low. I’m going to let you know before’ so we have that eye contact so we know what to do and what not to do. She reads me better than anyone else on the team.”

The Minutewomen will look for continued bench production and more when they travel to Kingston, Rhode Island to take on URI at the Ryan Center at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Javier Melo can be reached at [email protected]