UMass gets back in the win column with 74-61 victory over Fairfield

The Minutewomen are now 8-1 on the season

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Maya Geer/ Daily Collegian

By James DiLuca , Collegian Staff

Coming off a tough loss to Iowa State, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team got back to its winning ways against Fairfield on Wednesday, picking up a 74-61 win at the Mullins Center.

Sam Breen and Destiny Philoxy both turned in great performances for the Minutewomen, as the two combined for over half of UMass’ (8-1) points. Breen recorded her sixth double double of the season, finishing the game with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Breen’s 16 rebounds are a season high.

“I think she’s [Breen] going to be one of the best players ever to put on a Minutewomen jersey,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said. “I think [Breen] is one of the best scoring forwards in the Atlantic-10 … So, to know that we’re going to get that point production from her every single night is great.”

Philoxy added 17 points to go along with nine assists. Philoxy was held scoreless in the first half but poured it on in the second. The senior guard only took seven shots but made five of them and went a perfect 4-4 from 3-point range.

UMass led by as much 19 during the game but by the 6:38 mark in the fourth quarter that lead was cut down to seven by the Stags after a Callie Cavanaugh layup. At this point in the game the Minutewomen needed a basket to slow down Fairfield’s momentum. For the majority of the ensuing possession the Stags played perfect defense, but with the shot clock winding down the ball found Philoxy. Philoxy then banked in a three, which pushed the Minutewomen’s lead back to double digits and took the wind out of Fairfield’s sails.

Ber’Nyah Mayo had a relatively quiet game offensively scoring just eight points, but as the first half winded down the guard scored five quick points. Off a Shavonne Smith pass Mayo knocked down a triple with 32 seconds to go in the half. On UMass’s next defensive possession Mayo grabbed the board off a Fairfield miss and immediately looked to push the ball. Mayo went the length of the court in mere seconds, laying the ball in right before time expired.

The Minutewomen have been very dominant on the glass this season, but they seemed to take it to the next level against the Stags, outrebounding them 55-23. UMass also added 20 offensive rebounds which resulted in 18 second chance points. White and Taylor each had nine rebounds, and both narrowly missed out on double doubles.

“We really emphasize hitting, holding, and then going and finding the ball,” White said. “For us outrebounding our opponents and rebounding the ball offensively and defensively is something that we really take pride in and focus on.”

UMass turned in a stellar shooting performance from behind the arc hitting 46.7 percent of its threes. Sydney Taylor and Breen each knocked down four 3-pointers on the game.

“We wanted to go inside out, we started knocking down some shots, I think Sydney got it going early on, I think it was probably just that momentum, which allowed us to take the threes that we did,”  Verdi said. “But certainly, against the zone we wanted to attack the interior, and that’s something we’ll work on.”

On the defensive end the Minutewomen held Fairfield to just 35.4 percent shooting and limited their leading scorer Lou Lopez-Senechal to only eight points on 3-12 shooting. Entering the game Lopez-Senechal was averaging 20.5 points per game on 48.5 percent shooting.

Fairfield’s Sam Lewis stepped up in the scoring department for the Stags adding 14 points. Lewis scored all her points in the third quarter as she caught fire from distance hitting four 3-pointers.

The Minutewomen will now turn their attention toward UMass Lowell in a battle of the Commonwealth. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. from the Mullins Center.

James DiLuca can be reached at [email protected].