UMass feeds off its players’ energy in win against Harvard

Minutewomen create success from one another

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Shilpa Sweth/Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

Seconds into the third quarter, a ball aimed for a Harvard player was picked off by Ber’Nyah Mayo, but momentum carried her out of bounds. Destiney Philoxy then poked in a lay-up that forced a Crimson (0-2) player to travel on a 3-point attempt, getting the Massachusetts women’s basketball team on its feet.

Building off the energy, sophomore Makennah White got herself going with a crisp elbow jumper shortly before Mayo got herself another two points after a Harvard airball.

Mayo’s textbook point guard mentality subsequently led her to throw a perfect lob over a Crimson defender as Sam Breen streaked down the court. Due to the rapid success for the Minutewomen (2-0), Harvard had no other choice but to call timeout.

“Playing off my teammates energy should be no thought about it,” Philoxy said.

For a majority of the first half, Harvard had ball control with dominant 3-point shooters knocking down shots left and right. When UMass struggled to generate offense, it had to come from somewhere else. As the Minutewomen began to make plays on the defensive end, the rest of the team wanted to follow suit. UMass was able to create success from each other, within the lines of the game, without needing a set play or designed offensive to shake things up.

The run that the Minutewomen had to start quarter three was entirely produced based off energy built from one another, no matter who had the steal, took the charge, or drained the 3-pointer. The simple act of someone for UMass doing something positively seemed to create a chain reaction.

Sydney Taylor, who struggled from behind the arc in the first quarter to a degree, saw her first of four 3-pointer’s go in only five minutes into the game. Then, Angelique Ngalakulondi stole the ball but couldn’t turn it into successful play. Philoxy recognized the missed opportunity however and sprinted to recover.

The celebration was transformed into a bigger one with 22 seconds to go in the quarter. What could have been an easy two points for the Crimson that would have put them within two, Philoxy drew a charge at half court on a Harvard guard and halted all the fun. Two minutes later, Mayo knocked down a 3-pointer of her own.

The Minutewomen briefly huddled after any stoppage of play they could, frequently echoing upbeat messages following a lull or cheering from an important play.

Following a miss from deep by Taylor, Mayo chased the ball to throw it off a Harvard defender, giving UMass a second chance with a close game late in the fourth quarter. Mayo was met with a hug from Breen the second she landed from chasing the ball out of bounds.

“Understanding that we are in this together no matter if it was something positive or negative,” Mayo said. “Telling each other ‘OK we got the next one,’ or ‘Let’s get back.’ Little things like that go a long way.”

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Lulukesin.