Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball shows offensive ability against St. Bonaventure

Seven players scored in first half
Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

Throughout the season, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team has been searching for complimentary scoring to go along with Hailey Leidel and Sam Breen. Sometimes it has been a struggle.

On Tuesday night, it was not.

After one of the most dominant halves of the season, UMass (20-10, 9-7 Atlantic 10) took an insurmountable 45-16 lead into the locker room in its opening round matchup against St. Bonaventure (7-23, 4-12 A-10) cruising to a 72-54 win.

All seven of the Minutewomen who are regularly in the rotation had at least a bucket in the first half, with Sam Breen leading the way as the only player in double figures with ten points.

It was one of the most complete halves of basketball the team has played offensively all season.

“I thought everyone was contributing and we were moving the ball offensively,” coach Tory Verdi said. “Everyone was attacking, and we were clicking on all cylinders. We were playing selfless and that’s the way you play the game of basketball.

Tuesday was the Minutewomen’s fourth win in a row. Throughout this streak, UMass has gotten what they have been looking for: secondary scoring.

As the Minutewomen continue on their quest for the A-10 championship, future opponents will almost certainly focus most of their energy on stopping Breen and Leidel. Getting a third or fourth scorer is essential if UMass is to win its next three games and capture the title.

But getting that production makes the team extremely difficult to defend.

“It’s obviously extremely important,” Breen said. “Everyone can score the ball and in the past couple of games everyone has scored the ball. That obviously helps like if we’re getting doubled, like I was getting doubled at the beginning of today’s game, and if people are shooting the ball and hitting shots, that’s huge. And everyone on our team can do that, so if we continue to do that, we’re going to be pretty hard to stop.”

During Saturday’s senior day victory over Dayton, it was Destiney Philoxy who got in on the scoring fun with 11 points. The two games prior to that, it was senior captain Vashnie Perry leading the charge.

Tuesday, it was freshman center Maeve Donnelly. Donnelly is much more of a threat on the defensive end and admits that her offensive game is still developing. In her team’s win over the Bonnies, she dropped ten points on 4-of-6 shooting.

St. Bonaventure made it a note to guard Breen more tightly, allowing the 6-foot-5 Donnelly to slip the interior defense and get open, high-percentage shots.

She took full advantage.

“A lot of teams like to double Sam and dig down on her,” Donnelly said. “So, if I just come around and cut down and talk to her then I get a lot of drop-off passes, which are nice because I haven’t gotten those in a while. It was nice to get back on the board.  I’ve also worked a lot in practice about getting stronger in the post and it was nice to show that in the game.”

When UMass gets offensive production from Philoxy, Perry or Donnelly, it forces defenses to take some of its attention off Breen and Leidel.

Doing so is not a great recipe for success against the Minutewomen.

Everyone in the conference is pretty familiar with Leidel, who has been tormenting it for the past four seasons and stands just 26 points shy from the all-time UMass scoring record.

They are quickly becoming acquainted with the Penn State transfer Breen, who finished third in the A-10 in scoring and is capable of beating teams inside, with her back to the basket, or from beyond the three-point line.

How should defenses go about stopping Breen? Her frontcourt mate and defensive stalwart Donnelly has no answers.

“I don’t know, but I’m happy that they can’t because it makes it a lot more fun for me,” she said.

UMass will take trip to the conference quarterfinals on Friday. Its opponent is yet to be determined.

Tim Sorota can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @TimSorota.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *