Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Sydney Taylor scores career-high 32 points in win over VCU

Taylor finishes with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and leads Minutewomen in scoring Wednesday
Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

After three weeks filled with positive COVID-19 tests, virtual meetings and no practice, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team achieved a 72-60 victory over VCU behind a career-high 32 points from Sydney Taylor.

From the early minutes of the contest, it did not appear to have the components of a big game for Taylor. She started the game shooting just 4-of-11 from the field and attempted nine threes, only three of which fell. She did not let the early woes affect her for long and pushed through the adversity to find her rhythm.

“I think [Taylor’s early struggles] was probably due to me because I was screaming and yelling at her,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “Once I left her alone, I think that she started to get it going a little bit.”

In the UMass (13-2, 1-0 Atlantic 10) win, Taylor recorded her best offensive performance. After the 4-11 start, the junior finished the game shooting 8-10 from the field and nailed her last three shots from beyond the arc, including the dagger three to put the Minutewomen up by double-digits and halt VCUs late fourth quarter surge. Taylor beat her previous career-high of 27 points, which she recorded last season versus Fordham. This season, she has averaged 17 points per game.

“Shooters shoot,” Verdi said. “She wasn’t making a couple and faced some adversity and figured it out. She started taking the ball to the basket and driving the ball, being a little bit more aggressive. [Taylor’s] a scorer and she did her job here tonight. No question.”

Not only was Taylor the leading scorer by a large margin on Wednesday, but she also seemingly made the right play every time down the stretch. Taylor was able to use screens to gain separation thanks to the help of her teammates. One such play occurred when Makennah White set a brick wall on Taylor’s defender, which helped her split two defenders for a wide open layup at the front of the rim. Moments later, Taylor successfully defended a one-on-one fast break. Going the other way, Destiney Philoxy led the fast break and found a cutting Taylor for another easy two. Philoxy and Taylor’s connection was on display for multiple buckets in transition as well as settled offense.

Another area in which Taylor shined was at the free throw line. While her two made free-throws may not seem like much, they were a bright spot on a team that shot a combined 6-for-15 from the charity stripe. Both foul shots succeeded and-ones. The first came in the latter portion of the second quarter when Sam Breen hit Taylor in stride and Taylor extended and converted the layup despite taking a hand to the face. The second and one came on a put back layup where Taylor came out of nowhere to clean up the board and finished strong through a sea of defenders.

“You could ask [Sydney] Taylor, I told her this from day one that she could be one of the best players ever here at [UMass] her freshman year and she looked at me sideways, like I was crazy” Verdi said. “She has qualities, now she had to learn how to work hard and it took some time … but I still stand by that. What she did today, it doesn’t surprise me because I see it but boy was it fun to watch her.”

The Minutewomen will return to action on Saturday when they take on Richmond on the road at 4 p.m.


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

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