UMass’ 58-53 win against UMass Lowell highlights the importance of staying the course

UMass can learn from gritty performance against UMass Lowell

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Maya Geer / Daily Collegian

By James DiLuca, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team fought and clawed its way to victory in a tough, grind-it-out game against UMass Lowell.

Both teams shot rather poorly from the field and struggled with turnovers throughout the 40 minutes. The game saw a total of 40 turnovers between the two clubs. UMass shot just 32.3 percent from the field while UMass Lowell shot 40.3 percent. Despite the lackluster shooting and turnovers, the Minutewomen stayed composed and did the dirty work they needed to do in order to win.

“[The season] is a journey, and throughout your journey, it’s a rollercoaster ride, you are going to have highs and you are going to have lows and you’re going to have to figure it out,” UMass Coach Tory Verdi said.  “When we face adversity my message to [the team] is adversity builds character, and so when you face it, you can’t quit. It was hard today, but I am so proud of our fight down the stretch.”

The Minutewomen took a 33-30 lead into halftime before falling behind by nine with 2:50 to go in the third quarter, as UMass Lowell went on a 14-2 run out of the break. By the time UMass took the lead, it didn’t matter how ugly the first part of the game was. The focus shifted to finishing out the game in any way the Minutewomen could. Jumpers by Destiny Philoxy and Sam Breen cut the lead to five and helped to slow down any momentum that UMass Lowell had going in their favor.

Guards Ber’Nyah Mayo and Sydney Taylor both did not have particularly good shooting games as they shot a combined 3-19, but the shots they did hit provided major momentum shifts. Early in the game Taylor created separation from her defender with a step back and knocked down a huge 3-pointer to give the Minutewomen confidence in the first quarter.

In the final minute of play, Mayo scored her only basket of the night but it came at a crucial time. She used a crafty behind the back dribble to get inside the defense and grab an easy layup to help secure a win.

Along with these timely baskets, the Minutewomen did the little things on the court that don’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet but are critical when it comes to winning. Diving for loose balls or battling down low to establish position for a rebound two key areas that can go unrecognized but resonate with a team and provide them energy.

Effort plays were present all game, as no matter who was on the floor it seemed that whenever there was a loose ball, a UMass jersey was there. That translated to the offensive glass where forward Angelique Ngalakulondi grabbed six offensive rebounds.

Late in the third quarter Shavonne Smith was able to snag an offensive rebound off a Ngalakulondi missed free throw. While UMass was not able to score on the additional offensive possession, plays such as Smith rebound can potentially be the difference in a close game.

“We would make winning plays but then we would turn the ball over or make winning plays and miss layups. So it was deflating time and time again,” Verdi said. “It was one of those games where you just have to grind it out.”

Next up for UMass is Power 5 opponent Boston College. The Minutewomen will stay in Amherst take on the Eagles this coming Wednesday at 7 p.m.

James DiLuca can be reached at [email protected].