UMass women’s basketball continues skid with 50-47 loss to GW

Struggling offense disappeared in key moments


Nina Walat

By Thomas Haines, Sports Editor

The offense faltered in key moments on Sunday for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, which fell 50-47 to George Washington for its third straight loss.

UMass (14-6, 4-3 Atlantic 10) led by 11 three minutes into the second half but was unable to finish off the Colonials (8-11, 2-4 A-10), who came back to take the lead late in the third quarter and then dominated the final frame en route to their second conference victory.

“They went 3-2 zone, tried to contain our dribble penetration, but then they did us a favor and went man-to-man and we just could not execute, for whatever reason,” coach Tory Verdi said. “We couldn’t score in the half-court, and we’ve got to do a better job of scoring in transition too. We come down and we go one on three and throw the ball to people. We need to do a better job of executing down the stretch.”

Crucial scoring droughts in the second and fourth quarters allowed GW to climb back into the game after UMass built up big leads. Trailing early in the fourth quarter, the Minutewomen went five and a half minutes without a bucket, squandering several opportunities to retake control.

Senior Hailey Leidel led the charge most of the afternoon for the Minutewomen, finishing with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, but like the rest of UMass’ offense, Leidel struggled with the game on the line. Leidel was shut out altogether in the fourth quarter, and without her, the Minutewomen could only muster eight points in the final 10 minutes.

“They were there on every catch, they weren’t giving her any open looks,” Verdi said. “We’re moving the ball around, we’ve got the defense scrambling, and she’s got to get open. But we’ve got to do a better job of more players other than Hailey Leidel scoring for us.”

The woes on offense could largely be blamed on poor shooting, as UMass finished a wretched 17-for-61 from the field. Dynamic scorers Sam Breen and Destiney Philoxy finished a combined 5-for-23.

“We were missing layups, missing open shots,” Verdi said. “We can’t go 27 percent from the field, we have to have people step up.”

The Minutewomen led with two minutes to go after Breen hit a rare three, but GW’s Ariel Stephenson answered with a three of her own with just over a minute to go to give the Colonials a one-point lead. UMass got the ball out of a timeout with 13 seconds left, but Philoxy’s layup under the basket didn’t fall and GW hung on.

“We got the ball in Destiney’s hands, and she ripped it, she drove it, she had a clean look, and we got to execute,” Verdi said. “We got to put the ball in the basket.”

GW had plenty of struggles of its own, shooting just 37 percent from the field and 33 percent from three as neither team was able to find a rhythm on offense. For all their other issues, the Minutewomen turned in another excellent defensive showing in a year full of them.

“We played all man-to-man and did a great job defensively on them,” Verdi said. “I think there were a couple things we didn’t do when their players got the ball in the high post and they would rip and drive, but overall I thought our man defense was on point. We’ve got to score more than 47 points.”

The losing streak now stands at three for the Minutewomen, who had previously won 11 in a row. UMass returns home Wednesday to face Richmond with a chance to get back in the win column.

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