Minutewomen struggle from the field, fall at home to VCU

UMass shot seven percent from the field in the second quarter

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Joseph Aliberti, Collegian Staff

VCU’s defensive efforts proved to be too much for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team on Wednesday, as the Minutewomen struggled to get going offensively in a 61-46 loss.

The game started well for the Minutewomen (14-5, 4-2 Atlantic 10), as they held an 18-9 lead after one, primarily because of their blazing hot start from the 3-point line — they shot four-of-eight from deep in the first, but this was the end of UMass’ success on the offensive end.

The second quarter was the most dreadful for UMass, shooting a horrific 1-for-14 from the field and scoring just five points. The Minutewomen also turned the ball over six times, which helped the Rams on their way to scoring 17 points on 8-of-12 from the field in the second quarter, leading to a 26-23 VCU lead at the half.

Although the third quarter was an improvement, VCU still held UMass to a mediocre nine points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field and zero makes on four 3-point attempts. The Rams took advantage of the UMass slump to extend their lead by eight points, bringing the score to 40-32 heading into the final quarter of play.

“We lost our identity,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said. “We’ve got to give VCU credit for how they played defensively. There’s a reason why they’re one of the best defensive teams, if not the best defensive team in the A-10. They hurt you in multiple ways, there’s a ton of size, there’s a ton of speed and athleticism, and I thought that hurt us.”

It’s not often in basketball where you see a complete 180 in which team is dominating the game, but that’s exactly what happened as VCU held complete control after the first quarter.

“I think in the first quarter we were definitely doing a really good job working together, making extra passes, finding the open person,” junior forward Sam Breen said. “It was causing them problems and I think they switched up and it rattled us a little bit.”

Many different factors went into this overbearing performance by the Rams defense, none of which seemed more impactful than how physical they were able to play, forcing UMass to take shots that they did not want to.

Breen said the Minutewomen were settling for poor shots on Wednesday.

“We talked about that and I think we all think that and we let that get to us,” she said. “[We] stopped playing collectively.”

Another factor of VCU’s stout defense was their discipline and IQ, giving UMass minimal opportunities to do what they wanted to accomplish.

“On catches we weren’t open, because they did a great job of chasing us and being there on the catch,” Verdi said. “We would turn the corner offensively and get to the rim and we were challenged at the rim, and we couldn’t make shots.”

Although the team as a whole had a poor shooting night, sophomore Destiney Philoxy was still able to post solid numbers, scoring 12 points on 5-of-11 along with five assists in 28 minutes.

“Certain plays were made for me to finish, and I didn’t finish,” Philoxy said. “So I kind of let my team down on one side.”

UMass will look to bounce back when it heads on the road to face George Washington on Sunday.

Joseph Aliberti can be reached via email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JosephAliberti1.