Minutewomen’s season ends with quarterfinal loss to Fordham

Fordham boasts two scorers over the 20-point mark

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Minutewomen’s season ends with quarterfinal loss to Fordham

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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Despite a strong first quarter, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team fell short, 73-62, against the No. 2 seed Fordham in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

The loss brings an end to UMass’ (16-16, 7-9 A-10) season. The seven conference wins are the most in a season under coach Tory Verdi.

“I feel like our program has taken a huge step,” Verdi said. “Our players believed. They believed not only in themselves but believed in one another, and they continued to fight.”

The Minutewomen got off to a quick start in the first quarter, building a 9-2 lead five minutes into the game. After closing the quarter out with a 17-15 lead, things went south.

Fordham (23-9, 13-3 A-10) exploded for 30 second quarter points and give themselves an 11-point lead heading into the half.

“We can’t just be happy about being here,” Verdi said. “We wanted to come out on the opposite side.”

Mary Goulding dominated UMass Friday afternoon, accounting for 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Bre Cavanaugh also caused the Minutewomen defense fits, scoring 29 points against the UMass defenders. The sophomore guard drained four three-pointers, part of a 46.4 percent attack from three by the Rams Friday night.

“I thought they have probably the player of the year in our conference, in Bre Cavanaugh,” Verdi said.

Hailey Leidel once again carried the UMass offense, scoring 19 points as well as grabbing 10 rebounds. However, after hitting all 18 of her free throws in the first round, the junior shot just 5 for 11 from the charity stripe on Friday.

Freshman Destiney Philoxy proved why she was selected to the A-10 All-Rookie team, dropping 21 points and tallying three steals in the contest.

“By me going to the basket and being aggressive,” Philoxy said, “it causes my teammates to get open.”

Senior Jessica George scored eight points in her final game with UMass, hitting two free throws.

“She improved her entire skill set [while at UMass],” Verdi said of George. “She truly just helped move us, one of our captains, one of our leaders. I’m just really, really proud and happy for her that she got to finish this way.”

The Minutewomen made a comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, cutting what was at one point a 16-point lead to as few as six with 1:15 left in the game.

“Fordham is a good basketball team,” Verdi said, “I thought our players fought back and had some grit.”

UMass struggled from the free throw line on the afternoon, shooting 10 for 18, good for just a 55.6 percent free throw percentage.

“I’m proud of our players and thought that they did an outstanding job,” Verdi said. “They played really, really hard.”

Fordham will move on to the A-10 semifinal where they will take on the winner of Duquesne versus Saint Louis.

“The outcome of the game is disappointing,” Verdi said, “but I’m proud about the things that we’ve done.”

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