Breen shines in UMass’ loss to Dayton

The Minutewomen experience back-to-back losses for the first time this season

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Chris Tucci/ UMass Athletics

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

For the second game in a row, Sam Breen’s powerful performance was a bright spot for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, finishing Wednesday’s contest with another double-double.

While the Minutewomen couldn’t pull out the victory in the 69-60 loss to Dayton (13-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10) Breen fought through being double teamed for most of the contest to bring UMass (14-4, 2-2 A- 10) back into the game.

On the day, Breen recorded her eleventh double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. She is now tied for the third most double-doubles in the country, and also tied for the eleventh most made field goals amongst all Division I athletes. She now has 34 career double-doubles.

Wednesday’s game was no anomaly for Breen. She was the lone success story for the Minutewomen against Rhode Island on Monday, and she effectively scored at will when the going got tough. She was able to read the Rams’ offense down the stretch and pick off passes and get transition buckets. Her four steals were a season-high to go with her 25 points and 13 rebounds.

Following Monday’s game and hours before Wednesday night’s showdown, Breen was also named to the 2022 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year midseason watch list, an award recognized to the best mid-major player in the nation. The list is comprised of 15 players from 13 conferences. Players from conferences such as ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC are considered “high-major” and deemed ineligible to receive the award. Nonetheless, Breen finds herself among elite company.

While Breen’s scoring ability was the highlight of the night for the Minutewomen, Breen did more than just get buckets against the Flyers. With two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Breen ran a give-and-go with Destiney Philoxy who took the pass and used the screen to take it all the way to the basket for the easy layup, making it Breen’s fourth assist of the quarter and fifth on the night.

“One thing that’s been really positive about this team is that they share the ball and they play really well together,” head coach Tory Verdi said.

Breen’s 12 boards on Wednesday were harder to snag than previous games when competing against Dayton’s 6-foot-5 inch center, Tenin Magassa. Magassa wreaked havoc in the post and was in large part the reason why the Flyers out-rebounded the Minutewomen with flying colors, 40-31.

“Gotta give Dayton credit,” Verdi said. “I thought that they did a really good job of executing offensively and pounding the ball inside. They had a huge size advantage and they took advantage of it here tonight. They kicked our butts on the boards, especially in the first half.”

Late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, UMass desperately needed a push to keep the game within reach. Breen took the game into her own hands and scored nine straight points to bring the game within six points, including back-to-back 3-pointers.

“I knew that first one [shot] was going in and the second one was a play for me to have a 3-pointer and it was wide open so I knew I had to take that one,” Breen said, “I’ve been shooting at that hoop a lot so luckily they were going in.”

Unfortunately, the effort was not enough to stop the bleeding.

“Not making excuses at all, every team at this point is fatigued but I definitely think we were feeling it a little more … like it was there probably more [fatigue] than we were feeling it,” Breen said. “We don’t feel tired, but we know our bodies are.”

The Minutewomen have a chance to bounce back from the back-to-back losses when they hit the road to take on George Washington on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Michael Araujo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @araujo_michael_ .