Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball wins double-overtime thriller in A-10 Tournament

Minutewomen win first tournament game since 2015-16

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UMass women’s basketball wins double-overtime thriller in A-10 Tournament

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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After four quarters and two overtime periods, the Massachusetts women’s basketball came away with an 86-80 win over George Mason on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

With 54 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Hailey Leidel grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. Down 58-56, Leidel knocked down both free throws to force overtime and preserve the Minutewomen’s (16-15, 7-9 A-10) season.

George Mason (16-13, 8-8 A-10) held a lead late into the second overtime period before a string of turnovers gave UMass a late lead with 1:51 remaining. Two travel calls followed by a turnover turned the Patriots’ one-point advantage into a six-point disadvantage in a two-minute span.

“Just an unbelievable game,” coach Tory Verdi said. “A roller coaster of a game filled with emotion. I thought our players did an unbelievable job fighting adversity down the stretch.”

The win on Tuesday served as the first in the A-10 Tournament since 2015-16 when they defeated La Salle.

An uneventful first overtime period in which the teams each scored seven points gave way to a high-scoring second five-minute period where the teams combined for 36 points despite being half the length of a regulation period.

Destiney Philoxy served as the catalyst for UMass’ fourth quarter run, including converting an and-one with 39 seconds left to seal the victory.

Simon Nathans/Collegian

Philoxy’s nine points across the two overtime periods was second only to Hailey Leidel’s 12. In the entire game, Leidel scored 31 points including going a perfect 18-for-18 from the free-throw line.

“We knew it was a big game for us,” Leidel said. “We didn’t want to go home, we didn’t want to end our season.”

The Minutewomen started off the game strong, looking as if they would go into the second quarter with a 12-2 lead before Sarah Kaminski was fouled on her buzzer-beating 3-point attempt. Kaminski hit all three free-throw attempts to give the Patriots life.

Jacy Bolton served as the main source of offense for George Mason, scoring 35 points on an efficient 10-14 shooting and 14-16 from the charity stripe. The junior also wreaked havoc on the boards, grabbing 16 rebounds, four on the offensive end.

Nicole Cardaño-Hillary also gave the Minutewomen fits all afternoon, tallying 21 points of her own as well as nine rebounds and four steals.

Facing the end of her college career, Genesis Rivera scored 15 points to go with nine rebounds, both season-highs.

Free-throw shooting was the name of the game Tuesday afternoon as UMass shot 29 free-throw shots, making 25 of them, while George Mason shot 25-of-31 from the line.

“On both sides they were calling a lot of fouls,” Leidel said. “As a team we told each other to keep attacking because we knew we were going to get those same calls.”

Another key to the Mintutewomen coming out victorious was their ability to limit turnovers. Despite playing 50 minutes of basketball on Tuesday, UMass managed to keep their turnover total in the single digits. Their nine turnovers only resulted in six points for the Patriots on the other end.

“I’m really happy for our players and our program,” Verdi said. “To win this game and move to the second round of the A-10 tournament, really excited about that.”

With the victory UMass advances to the A-10 quarterfinals in Pittsburgh to take on No. 2 Fordham.

The game is scheduled for Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

“That’s going to be a revenge game as well,” Leidel said. “I do think that we can beat them.”

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

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