Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Late comeback falls short as UMass women’s basketball falls 55-54 to Saint Joseph’s

The Minutewomen trailed by 15 at the start of the fourth quarter

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Late comeback falls short as UMass women’s basketball falls 55-54 to Saint Joseph’s

By Dan McGee, Collegian Staff

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Heading into the fourth quarter on Wednesday, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team trailed Saint Joseph’s by 15 points.

Ultimately, a comeback of epic proportions came up just short. UMass (13-12, 5-6 Atlantic 10) lost by one, falling to the Hawks (9-15, 5-6 A-10) 55-54.

“We showed up, we weren’t ready to play,” said coach Tory Verdi. “We were lackadaisical, we had no energy, we had no want-to. It was very disappointing.”

Through the first three quarters, UMass had no answer for St. Joe’s. At the half, the Minutewomen were shooting a bleak 24.1 percent from the field, opposed to the impressive 46.2 percent for the Hawks.

Alyssa Monaghan, St. Joe’s leading scorer, played a major role in the Hawks’ first-half dominance, tallying eight points on 3-for-6 shooting. St. Joseph’s was able to grow its halftime lead in the third quarter, highlighted by three Monaghan three-pointers.

Entering the final frame, UMass trailed 47-32. The Minutewomen were able to build some momentum at the start of the period, compiling a 12-2 run highlighted by a Jessica Nelson and-one layup to cut the deficit to just five.

With 1:16 remaining, Jessica George finagled her way to the charity stripe after the second Minutewomen and-one of the quarter, converting the free throw and cutting the score to 50-49.

With nine seconds remaining, Hawks guard Katie Jekot iced the game, hitting a three-pointer and pushing the St. Joseph’s lead to 55-51. Minutewomen sharpshooter Hailey Leidel was able to nail a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, but it was all for naught, as the Hawks clung on to their one-point lead to win 55-54.

“The fourth period we showed up and put ourselves in a position to win a basketball game,” said Verdi. “We played literally 10 minutes and we almost came away with the W. It’s a learning example, we’ve talked about it. But no matter who you play, you can’t rely on playing just 10 minutes of a 40-minute game, especially not in this conference. We were upset because of the first three periods, but I was really proud of our team in the fourth period.”

The Minutewomen were able to contain Monaghan much better in the second half, allowing 12 points but holding her to just 3-for-11 from the field.

Three Minutewomen finished the game in double figures. Destiney Philoxy tallied 15 points, Jessica George added 11 and Hailey Leidel finished with 10 points of her own.

Verdi attributed the fourth-quarter success largely to Philoxy and the Minutewomen’s ability to drive to the hoop.

“We started to attack the basket,” said Verdi. “I think Destiney Philoxy did a great job of getting us going late in the third and then there was some carry over after getting some energy from that offensive production.

“Offensively, [Philoxy] did a great job of attacking the basket for us,” added Verdi. “She needs to limit her turnovers, we had several opportunities where we were attacking offensively, and we turned the ball over. When you come up empty on those possessions, they’re deflating. But she’s young, she’s learning and she’s doing a great job for us.”

In the final frame, the Minutewomen were also able to take control of the paint, dominating the Hawks 14-0 on the inside in the fourth.

The Minutewomen will look to get back into the win column on Saturday as they take on Davidson. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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

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