UMass women’s basketball falls flat in loss to George Washington

Poor effort sinks the Minutewomen on Wednesday night

Photo+by+Judith+Gibson-Okunieff
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UMass women’s basketball falls flat in loss to George Washington

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

By Evan Marinofsky, Collegian Staff

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If the Massachusetts women’s basketball team could get a mulligan on Wednesday night’s 66-59 loss to the George Washington women’s basketball team, they’d take it.

The score is deceiving. After three quarters, the Minutewomen (13-14, 5-8 Atlantic-10) trailed the Colonials 53-35. At the 5:14 mark of the third quarter, UMass was down 40-16.

All of this in a game that had big implications on the standings.

“We should’ve been super desperate for this win today,” said UMass coach Tory Verdi. “We’re lacking some mental toughness and discipline.”

Heading into the game, the Minutewomen, Colonials and George Mason were all tied in the standings at 5-7 in A-10 play. A win for UMass would’ve meant a better position in the standings and a boost that would put them in the conversation to host in the playoffs.

With the win, the Colonials move up into eighth place. If UMass wins the rest of its three games, it could finish as high as fifth depending on how the middle teams perform.

But that won’t be easy after this loss.

“We didn’t show up,” said Verdi. “We didn’t compete. Disappointing. We needed more discipline on both sides of the ball.”

The Minutewomen went 2-for-23 from three-point range in the game. It wasn’t until there was a bit over a minute remaining in the third quarter that they sunk their first bucket from beyond the arc, as Destiney Philoxy, who was the only bright spot on the stat-sheet with 24 points and seven rebounds, hit one from deep.

Verdi believed he could have gotten more the freshman.

“I thought she could’ve been better,” said Verdi. “I thought she gave us some point production late in the second half, but I thought she could’ve been better especially in the first half.”

On the other side of the ball, George Washington was top-notch from three, going 10-for-28. Colonial forward Kelsi Mahoney highlighted that, going 7-for-12 from beyond the arc. George  Washington chose to make a lot of cross-court passes in the offensive end, exposing the Minutewomen’s lack of height.

“Other teams make shots,” said Verdi. “They never practice at Mullins Center. Neither do we which doesn’t matter at the end of the day. The hoop is 10 feet high and other teams come in here and they shoot it well and we don’t so we got to figure out a way to make shots.”

Ironically enough, the Minutewomen made a run for the Colonials in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 24-13, but only putting up eight points in the first quarter and then four in the second made it tough for UMass to make any dent as the clock winded down. An 18-4 run by the Colonials in the middle of the third quarter didn’t help either.

“We didn’t play basketball for three periods,” said Verdi. “We didn’t play basketball for three periods. And for whatever reason, I’m not sure, we need to figure it out.”

Hailey Leidel, the team’s leading scorer this season, only turned in a four-point night. Jessica George had the one play that got the fans out of their seats with a reverse lay-up with a bit under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The score was 44-25 in favor of George Washington.

“At the end of the day, I think our coaching staff does an unbelievable job preparing our players for these games and they got to figure out how to get themselves motivated to come out and play extremely hard and understand what you’re playing for,” said Verdi. “Every night in the A-10 we’re playing for something and it’s just disappointing we didn’t come ready to play tonight.”

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected]