Ber’Nyah Mayo continues to provide for UMass despite loss

Mayo’s floor general mentality results in 14 points and five assists

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Maya Geer/ Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

Ber’Nyah Mayo has started every game for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team since the moment she arrived on campus. The sophomore floor general runs the offense for the Minutewomen and sits as the second half of UMass’ (15-5, 3-3 A-10) lethal backcourt duo with Destiney Philoxy.

Since the start of Mayo’s Minutewomen campaign, there has been no shortage of tough games. Her freshman season, Mayo played on the roster of seven people that UMass brought to the A-10 tournament and in her rookie year, found herself playing the entirety of the tournament’s championship game.

On Jan. 15, Mayo hit a game winning off balance layup to put the Minutewomen over A-10 foe Richmond.

Wednesday’s rematch against A-10 warrior Rhode Island (16-3, 6-0 A-10) was no different. After falling to the Rams nine days prior, the second chance to stab back at URI was crucial. But preparation for Mayo stayed the same.

“I’ve started every game so honestly going into the game every [time] with the same mindset that I am going to play hard, going to compete and do what I do best,” Mayo said.

In the loss on Wednesday, a majority of UMass’ problems came from lack of success on the offensive end. With leading scorers Sam Breen finishing 3-for-12 from the field and Sydney Taylor ending the night 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-6 from downtown, production had to come somewhere else.

On the night, Mayo produced 14 points, including a single 3-pointer that started off the scoring for the Minutewomen in the first few minutes. On a night where UMass hit just three 3-pointers but took 14 attempts, Mayo’s quickfire from downtown to kick off the game turned out to be more impactful than expected. After struggling from the charity stripe for the first few games, the Minutewomen were perfect on Wednesday. Just five sole attempts on the night as a team is no game winning stat, but Mayo, who shoots 60.4 percent from the line locked in her one attempt.

The Rams mastered the art of icing the ball screens, taking away a critical aspect to the UMass offense which pushed the Minutewomen, particularly Mayo to change her game.

“It just gave me a chance to look at [the defense] and tell myself I needed to adjust,” Mayo said. “When [the Rams] ice the [ball screens] and flip it, it gives me more room to attack the rim anyway so it was kind of like ‘alright, I won’t be able to shoot as many 3-pointers but will be able to get to the rim and finish around the rim’.”

With just under four in the fourth quarter, Mayo snagged a rebound and went coast to coast but failed to complete the first layup. She then grabbed the offensive board, went into contact with a reverse layup to draw a foul and send her to the line on a 3-point play.

A lukewarm shooting performance turned ice cold in the second half and any sparkplug for the Minutewomen shined brighter given the lackluster luck getting the ball in the hoop. Even with the win given to URI before the clock hit zero in the fourth quarter, Mayo played till the final second.

Following her crowd erupting and bench cheering shifty reverse layup, Mayo stole the ball and took it to the rim to finish herself, less than a minute later.

“The game is not over yet … we still need to play,” Mayo said of her mentality after that sequence.

Mayo is averaging 4.5 rebounds on the year to contribute to the rebounding powerhouse that has been the Minutewomen this season, and on Wednesday, finished with six boards, including five on the defensive side.

To close the second quarter, UMass didn’t necessarily catch fire, but temperatures were rising in terms of chipping back at an early Rams lead. As the clock winded, the Minutewomen secured a rebound and Breen streaked ahead calling for the ball. Instead of throwing ahead right away to Breen, Mayo used more clock time to take the layup herself, not allowing URI to get the final shot before the half.

Despite the no-pass to Breen in that sequence, Mayo still finished with five assists on a night where besides Makennah White’s 12 points, none of her teammates scored more than nine.

UMass gets back on the road for a Saturday matchup at Saint Joseph’s at 2 p.m.

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