UMass cruises to victory in 86-40 win over Hartford

UMass now sits at 12-2

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Maya Geer/ Daily Collegian

By James DiLuca, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team can hold its’ heads high going into holiday break, as Wednesday’s 46-point win is the Minutewomen’s largest margin of victory this year.

UMass displayed great ball movement against Hartford as 22 of its 36 made shots were assisted on. Destiney Philoxy had half of those assists as she tailed nine points to go along with 11 dimes. Philoxy narrowly missed out on a double double.

The Minutewomen excelled in transition against the Hawks, due in large part to their frantic defense. UMass had 16 steals as a team and forced Hartford to commit 26 turnovers. On the day UMass had 27 fast break points which accounted for nearly a third of its total points.

“We wanted to get some deflections and steals and we just felt that today if we played good solid man defense [Hartford] would turn the ball over,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said. “[Hartford] turned the ball over 26 times today and we were able to gobble those up and go get one-legged layups.”

Hartford was held to just 28.3 percent shooting and did not have a single player score in double figures. Sophie Benharouga led all Hawks scorers with eight points.

Sydney Taylor scored a game high 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting, Taylor got off to a hot shooting start scoring 10 points in the first quarter, all of which were right at the front of the rim. Ber’nyah Mayo and Angelique Ngalakulondi each scored 14. Sam Breen added 12 and Makennah White scored 10 off of the bench.

Ngalakulondi scored most of her points in transition as she constantly ran the floor which allowed her teammates to find her for easy baskets.

“That’s why we recruited [Ngalakulondi],” Verdi said. “When you run the floor like that you constantly put pressure on the defense. Your guards as soon as they start advancing the ball up the floor [the defense] has to stop the ball and Angelique is ready at the basket.”

Mayo turned in a dominant all-around performance along with 14 points she grabbed six rebounds, dished out five assists, while adding five steals. Wednesday’s game marks the second time this season that the sophomore guard as had five or more steals. Mayo leads the Minutewomen in total steals (35) and steals per game (2.5.)

With the large lead, some of UMass’ younger players logged minutes in the fourth quarter. Freshman Alexzeya Brooks, Damoni Tucker, and Natousha Harden all recorded their first points of their collegiate careers. Harden and Brooks both have seen limited minutes this year, only appearing in two games prior to Wednesday.

However, Wednesday’s game marked the first time that Tucker had seen any action on the court for the Minutewomen.

With Christmas fast approaching UMass will have almost a weeklong break before it  will head to New Hampshire to face off against Dartmouth on Dec. 28. After Dartmouth, UMass will move into exclusively conference play.

As for Verdi and Minutewomen the holiday break will allow for some time for family as well as a chance to reset.

“I just cherish this time,” Verdi said. “Now I got an 18-year-old, almost a high schooler in my daughter and I still have one young one left so we’re going to enjoy this family time.”

James DiLuca can be reached at [email protected].