Minutewomen jump out to 17-0 lead en route to 74-48 win over Hartford

The win gets the Minutewomen to .500

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Minutewomen jump out to 17-0 lead en route to 74-48 win over Hartford

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Thomas Haines, Collegian Staff

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A 17-0 run to open the game was more than enough for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, which rolled over Hartford for a 74-48 win to get back to .500.

UMass (2-2) held the Hawks scoreless for the first five and a half minutes while the Minutewomen drained shot after shot. Destiney Philoxy scored five points and recorded three assists to spark the run, as four players scored to take the Minutewomen to a lead they would not relinquish.

“We’ll take that,” coach Tory Verdi said. “I think they were 0-for-9 in their first nine possessions, something like that, but great start for us. Knocked down a lot of shots, shared the basketball, worked really, really hard, but more importantly, what I loved about our team here today was I saw them really enjoying the game and the competition.”

UMass led by 15 or more points the rest of the way and looked impressive all around, with a strong defense that was backed by hot shooting. The Minutewomen built a 44-17 lead at halftime that more or less finished off the Hawks (0-4).

The win brought UMass back to .500 after two losses to open the season.

“I think it’s exactly what we needed,” senior Hailey Leidel said. “Our first game didn’t go well at all, our second game, personally I think we could’ve pulled out a win, but we just shot ourselves in the foot in the little spots. I think right now that we’re seeing the outcomes that we wanted. I think everyone’s really connected right now and on the same page, and that’s really all we needed.”

UMass capitalized on a sloppy Hartford team that turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and 26 times by the end of the game. Hartford’s atrocious shooting to open the game – 5-of-29 and 0-of-7 from three in the first half – didn’t help the Hawks either.

At the same time, the Minutewomen showed some improvements, particularly in shot selection. From behind the arc, where UMass entered shooting 24.6 percent, the Minutewomen sank five of 12 in the first half.

“We’ve been harping running through our offense, not settling for quick shots, stuff in transition,” Leidel said. “The first two games we were kind of rushing and maybe just trying to do too much, just kind of as a team, and the coaches told us, ‘Just take what the defense gives you, take it within the offense.’ We really listened to them and it’s reflected that.”

It was a well-rounded game for the Minutewomen, as no one played more than 30 minutes or scored more than 20 points. Leidel and Philoxy led the way in scoring with 17 and 16 points respectively, while freshman Angelique Ngalakulondi pulled down 12 rebounds.

“You look at Angelique and the amount of time she’s starting to see here in the last couple games, her minutes have grown,” Verdi said. “I think she did a great job, really proud of her.”

Fellow freshmen Sydney Taylor and Grace Heeps saw significant minutes as the game turned to a blowout. Taylor went 1-for-8 from the field in 15 minutes of action, while Heeps went 0-for-2 in 10 minutes.

Now 2-2, UMass has weathered the storm of two ugly losses to Merrimack and Providence, and the Minutewomen are rolling the way they were expected to from the start of the season.

“Had we played Merrimack the last couple games, I think it would be a different story,” Verdi said. “But regardless, my goal in all this is to continue to get better each and every single day, and I think it’s evident we’ve done that.”

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @thainessports.