Minutewomen look to get their season back on track against George Washington

UMass game against GW a must win

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Minutewomen look to get their season back on track against George Washington

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

By Javier Melo, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s basketball team will host George Washington in a game that has major ramifications on the season.

The Minutewomen (13-13, 5-7 A-10) and the Colonials (8-17, 5-7 A-10) have the same record in the conference and are each fringe tournament teams fighting for the same spot.

“We’re both sitting at 5-7,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said. “Regardless of who we’re playing, we’ve got to make sure that we do a great job. We’ve got to show up right from the get-go. We’ve got to out-work them, we’ve got to out-play them, we’ve got to out-tough them.”

“They’re a team that’s going to be very physical,” Verdi said. “They do a great job defensively and we’ve got to combat that.”

George Washington has been struggling as of late, losing their last five games, which leaves them desperate for a victory. But so are the Minutewomen.

“Just be as desperate as they would be coming in because we’re on a two-game losing streak,” junior captain Hailey Leidel said on George Washington’s five-game losing streak. “Coming out and playing harder than them, out-toughing them, doing all of the little things.”

If the Minutewomen want to win this one, they will need to break their terrible habit of getting off to a slow start. The slow start ruined their chances in their last game against Davidson, as they scored just 14 points in the first half. George Washington has a stout defense that could lead to another sluggish start if UMass isn’t careful.

“One, make shots and not turn the ball over,” Verdi said. “When you go back and you look at the games, all the early possessions we’re turning the ball over and we’re taking quick shots, ill-advised shots, and our shot selection isn’t that great. It’s about being focused from the start, slowing down. We’re eager and our players want to win, but they want to make it happen right away. Slow down, let the offense work for you, move the ball around, break down the defense and then make the extra pass.”

George Washington’s record doesn’t reflect how well they’ve been playing. They have some standout players, including freshman center Kayla Mokwuah. She has been a force for the Colonials in the paint and has only gotten better as the season has progressed. The Minutewomen will look to game plan around her, as she is not someone who can be left alone in the paint.

“We’re going to make sure that she gets tough touches,” Verdi said. “We’ve got to make sure they do a lot of passing from up top, a lot of high-low action. We want to pressure the ball. And then secondly, we want to smother her. We’re not going to give her any clean catches. We’re going to be there, help side’s going to be there, so we’re not going to allow her to get comfortable in the paint and allow her to turn over her left shoulder, where she’s really, really strong.”

The Minutewomen will host George Washington Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

Javier Melo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JMeloSports.