UMass women’s basketball falls short in comeback effort at home against Fordham

Minutewomen drop their second straight

By Richard Rodgers, Collegian Staff

It was a tale of two halves as the Massachusetts women’s basketball team fell to Fordham 64-69 in an afternoon home game. The Minutewomen gave themselves a great opportunity in the fourth quarter, coming as close as within three points, but they were unable to complete what would’ve been a remarkable comeback.

The grit and energy on display from the Minutewomen was as impressive as ever in the fourth quarter. They got stops and got to the basket with efficiency down the stretch. It just wasn’t enough to get out of the hole they dug themselves in the first half.

“I thought we were tough in the second half especially down the stretch,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “I thought we executed and did some really nice things. Though, to beat Fordham it was clearly stated that you have to play every possession like it’s your last possession. You have to grind it out and fight for 40 minutes to out-tough them. I think we’re heading in the right direction. We’re on our way there, but we’re not there yet.”

After a brutal loss on Wednesday night, the Minutewomen (16-8, 6-5 Atlantic 10) got off to a lackluster start. They had a total of 12 turnovers in the game, eight of which came in the first half. For the Rams (15-8, 7-3 Atlantic 10), junior guard Kendell Heremaia was firing on all cylinder early and often. She had 17 points, four assists, and two rebounds shooting 5-of-9 from the field.

“It’s tough because she has a quick release so you have to close out quickly,” junior forward Sam Breen said. “She can also take you off the drive, so helping the helper was a key thing we had to do today. We picked it up in the second half, obviously, but if we did that for all four quarters it could have been a different story.”

Breen, who’s been outstanding for the Minutewomen in their past few games, was productive but lacked her usual efficiency. She had 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists shooting 8-of-25 from the field. The size and talent in Fordham’s frontcourt gave her a rare challenge.

“It was interesting because they switch one through four, one through five, and one through three,” Breen said. “Reading that and reading when there’s a mismatch in the post was something we practiced a lot and did pretty well.”

After providing a solid spark for the team, junior guard Paige McCormick went down with what looked to be a concerning injury. She appeared to have gotten tripped and was helped off the court without being able to put any weight on her right foot. She didn’t return, but was walking around the bench area later in the quarter with an ice pack wrapped around her ankle. There’s currently no update on her situation.

“Her going down made us play more for her as well as everyone else,” Breen said. It was kind of a momentum push for us.”

McCormick had seven points and three rebounds shooting 3-of-5 from the field in 20 minutes before being sidelined. Her size, versatility, and athleticism are assets that the Minutewomen can’t afford to lose.

UMass still sits near the top of the A-10 with five games left to play. The Minutewomen are well aware of the fact that they’ll need to be more consistent in order to reach their goals.

The Minutewomen will look to have a strong bounceback effort in their upcoming home game against Dayton on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

Richard Rodgers can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @RichardDRodgers.