UMass dominates second half in 78-62 win over Saint Louis

The Minutewomen outscored Saint Louis, 46-31, in the second half

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By James DiLuca, Collegian Correspondent

In a game that appeared to be headed toward a close finish, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team showed why they are one of the best teams in the A-10, taking command in the second half and beating Saint Louis 78-62.

At halftime, UMass (10-2, 6-1 Atlantic 10) was up 32-31 after a late run in the second quarter that saw Sydney Taylor hit a huge 3-pointer to put UMass up by one. Saint Louis (2-2, 0-2 Atlantic 10) led for most of the first half and had success shooting from deep, making five of their six 3-pointers in the first half.

The third quarter saw UMass take control against the Billikens. Makennah White hit a jumper with 5:20 to go in the third quarter putting UMass up 41-40. White’s shot started a pivotal 9-0 run which allowed UMass to pull away, as they extended their lead to eight with 3:29 left in the third quarter.

After going up 41-40, the Minutewomen never looked back, as they held their lead for the rest of the game.

“The combination of Maddie Sims and Makennah White, I thought those guys were doing some nice things,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said. “We started opening up a little bit, we started executing and getting high percentage shots.”

UMass was able to put forth an outstanding defensive effort as it held Saint Louis to just 32.8 percent shooting from the field and 26.1 percent from three. The UMass defense was able to hold Saint Louis’ leading scorer Ciaja Harbison to just six points on 2-of-11 shooting. Harbison came into the game averaging 18.3 points a contest.

Additionally, UMass was able to slow down Rachel Kent who got off to a hot start. Kent had 11 of her 13 points in the first half which included three triples. The Minutewomen adjusted their defense to minimize Kent’s open looks from behind the arc. Kent only hit one shot in the second half.

On the offensive end, the Minutewomen had a well-rounded scoring attack with four starters reaching double figures in points.

Sydney Taylor led the team with 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Destiney Philoxy had 14 points to go along with 6 assists and Sims scored 12 points on an efficient 6-for-9 shooting. Danielle Sanderlin provided a spark off the bench scoring 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds.

Sam Breen had a tough game shooting the ball, finishing with 13 points while shooting 4-for-17 from the field. Despite this, Breen still found a way to impact the game as she hauled in a season-high 15 rebounds and dished out four assists.

“Today my shots weren’t falling so it was super frustrating, but not letting that impact the other aspects of my game was huge for me,” Breen said. “They (shots) didn’t fall too much today, but knowing they’re eventually going to fall, you just can’t get down on yourself.”

With this win over Saint Louis, the Minutewomen have now won their last four in a row. The Minutewomen are currently second in the Atlantic 10 and continue to put pressure on the Dayton Flyers who are atop the A-10 standings with a 5-0 record. Dayton currently has postponed games up to January 29th due to a positive COVID test.

The Minutewomen will look to push their win streak to five in a row as they will play another road game against St. Louis on Sunday at 3 PM.

James DiLuca can be reached at [email protected].