Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass has chance for season-sweep of Davidson on Saturday

UMass currently in eighth place in the A-10 with five games to play

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UMass has chance for season-sweep of Davidson on Saturday

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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Saturday afternoon, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team hosts Davidson less than a month after upsetting the Wildcats on the road.

The Davidson loss to UMass on Jan. 20 marked the first loss in conference play for the Wildcats. Since, Davidson has dropped two more games in the Atlantic 10, falling to third place in the standings.

“We know that we’ve done it before,” Jessica George said of beating Davidson. “So, it is definitely possible that we can do it again.”

The Minutewomen come into the game following another close loss, losing 55-54 to Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday.

UMass’ last four losses have now come by a combined 10 points. The loss put the Minutewomen in eighth place in the A-10 with five games remaining.

Davidson comes into Amherst with its A-10-best offense, averaging 66.8 points per game. The Minutewomen were able to slow the Wildcat attack in their last matchup but will need to play like the team that is just two games removed from limiting Rhode Island to 34 points.

“We need to come out with the same goals that we had last time,” George said. “We need to shut down their key scorers, and play good defense, and things like that.”

Davidson features a well-rounded scoring attack. Four players currently average at least 10 points per game.

“We need to do a great job of containing dribble penetration,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “We need to not allow fast break points, they do a great job of attacking on both makes and misses.”

Katie Turner leads the Wildcat offense, averaging 13.3 points and 4.5 assists per game. The sophomore guard has eclipsed 20 points on three occasions this season. In Davidson’s previous matchup with UMass, Turner scored a team-high 15 points to go with five assists.

In their last matchup, UMass came out on top 70-58 to hand the Wildcats their first A-10 loss of the season. In the game, Vashnie Perry scored a season-high 18 points to power the Minutewomen offense.

One key to that matchup was UMass’ ability to shoot the three, knocking down nine of its 19 attempts.

Three-point shooting could once again prove to be the difference maker as UMass leads the A-10 in three-point percentage at 33.3 percent.

“We’ve been trying to get in the gym as much as possible, get up as many shots as possible,” George said.

Sarah Donovan of Davidson currently leads the A-10 in rebounding, racking up 8.7 per game. The sophomore also contributes to the Wildcats offensively, tallying 12.8 points per game.

Donovan was a key piece to Davidson winning the rebounding battle a couple weeks ago. The Wildcats especially caused trouble for the Minutewomen on the offensive glass, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds, an area in which UMass will look to improve on Saturday.

“Where can we improve?” Verdi said. “We need to do a better job rebounding. We need to do a great job boxing out.”

Despite beating the Wildcats last time the two faced off, UMass is not overlooking its opponent.

“We expect this to be a game, regardless of the fact we beat them at their place,” Verdi said. “They’re a very good basketball team, they’re a high scoring team, we have to do a great job defensively.”

The rematch is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Mullins Center.

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

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