UMass snaps four-game losing streak with 61-48 win over Davidson

Minutewomen come out victorious on Play4Kay Day

Mehroz+Kapadia%2FDaily+Collegian%0A%0A

Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

By Thomas Haines, Sports Editor

After a big win over Davidson on Feb. 2, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team had lost four straight heading into Saturday. So it was only fitting that the Minutewomen would get back on track with another big game against the Wildcats three weeks later.

Vashnie Perry led the Minutewomen with 23 points, Sam Breen notched a double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds, and UMass rolled to a 61-48 win to snap the losing streak and solidify its position in the Atlantic 10.

“The four games we lost, we didn’t necessarily play bad,” Breen said. “So I think today to come out and start and have four strong quarters and play for the full 40 minutes really helped us out. We need to take that on the road Wednesday and back home for our last home game next Saturday.”

The Minutewomen (17-10, 7-7 A-10) took a 10-point lead into halftime, but pulled away definitively in the third quarter. UMass outscored the Wildcats (14-13, 7-7 A-10) by seven in the third quarter while shooting over 50 percent, and Davidson fell into too deep a hole to recover.

Saturday’s effort was all the more impressive for the fact that leading scorer Hailey Leidel was shut out in the first half. Leidel finished with 12 points as the Wildcats started shifting their focus to Perry, but the balanced attack of the Minutewomen was an encouraging sign for an offense that’s run hot-and-cold to this point.

“I thought they did a really good job of trying to contain Hailey,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said. “Every single cut that she made, they bodied her up and tried to deny her, and it was a little bit effective, but what that does is it opens driving lanes, and Vash took advantage of that. She did a great job of creating for herself and others.”

With the win, UMass earned a season sweep over Davidson, which started the year 6-0 in the A-10 before a 1-7 skid. While the Wildcats continued to slide, the Minutewomen were able to right the ship with a complete game that moved them into a tie for fifth place in the conference.

“The last two weeks have not been comfortable for us, I promise you that,” Verdi said. “Not only for the players but for myself. But anytime you get a win like this, and the fact that we swept Davidson this year, it feels pretty good. I know there’ll be some momentum going on, some carryover, heading into St. Joe’s.”

Saturday also marked the 17th win of the year for UMass, passing last year’s total and continuing the trend of year-by-year improvement in Verdi’s four seasons at the helm. But there’s still plenty of room to grow for the Minutewomen, who now have a clear path to the top four of the A-10 with two games to play.

“I’ve been saying that the whole year, I don’t think we’re playing our best basketball yet,” Verdi said. “I’ve seen us play our best basketball, and the one thing where we’re trying to go is being consistent each and every single game, and I thought today we were pretty consistent. If we continue to play like this, who knows what can happen down the stretch. Really proud of our team, we keep moving this program forward.”

UMass has two games remaining, on the road Wednesday against Saint Joseph’s and at home next Saturday with a chance for revenge against Rhode Island.

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