UMass falls short against URI 60-46 at home

The comeback attempt comes too little, too late as the Minutewomen finish the game on an 11-2 run

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Maya Geer/ Daily Collegian

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team has now lost three of their last four games as it fell to Rhode Island 60-46 on Wednesday night.

The story of the night for UMass (15-5, 3-3 Atlantic 10) was its inability to get shots to fall. URI’s (16-3, 6-0 A-10) stout zone defense was clearly stifling the Minutewomen, as the team shot a collective 19-for-58 from the field, an underwhelming 32.8%. The Rams shot 47.1% from the field.

With the win over UMass, URI now has nine straight victories in a row, its best win streak in program history.

URI stands as one of the best team in the A-10 conference in terms of defense. On average, the Rams remarkably hold opponents to only 52 points per game at a 34% clip in 19 games played this season. They eliminated every attempt UMass had to get back into the game.

“It wasn’t our night,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “For whatever reason we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. Not gonna win too many games if you’re scoring 46 points and shooting 32% from the field… They made shots. We didn’t.”

The Rams’ sharp shooter Dolly Cairns scored on all levels against the Minutewomen, finishing 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc. Carins finished with 14 points. Emmanuelle Tahane had herself a night as well, leading the way with 18 points. She went 8-for-14 from the field and pulled five rebounds. Marie-Paule Foppossi also had 14 to finish Wednesday’s contest as well.

After allowing a wide-open layup on a blown defensive switch late in the fourth quarter, Verdi called a timeout. In dire need of a momentum shift, UMass immediately played with more intensity, and went on a 9-and-0 run following the discussion. Despite the outcome of the game not being in favor of the Minutewomen, the team fought back until the end of regulation.

“Be connected,” Verdi said when asked about his comments during the timeout. “There were times tonight where we weren’t on the same page defensively and we broke down because of it. Regardless of what we’re doing, everyone has to be on the same page, and I thought we were fractured at times tonight.”

Verdi’s words in the huddle seemed to ignite a spark in Ber’Nyah Mayo, whose closing minutes of the game stood out. Mayo grabbed the defensive rebound and pushed the tempo, taking the ball coast-to-coast and putting up a floater. While the shot did not fall, Mayo was right there to clean it up, as she grabbed her own miss and banked home the reverse layup through contact and earned a foul shot – which she nailed. She followed that up by taking the ball coast-to-coast and weaved through the defense for the open layup.

“Just finishing the game strong,” Mayo said when asked about her mindset in the final minutes. “Having [Stefanie Kulesza] come in with me, whether it was [Shavonne Smith] or anybody, just allowing them to understand the game is not over yet. We still need to play and do what we’re told and play the same as the starters.”

Mayo finished with a team-high 14 points and tied Sam Breen for the most rebounds with six. Mayo also had five assists and two steals. Makennah White was not too far behind her in the scoring department, as she totaled 12 points to accommodate her two rebounds and one steal. Mayo and White were the only two Minutewomen that scored in double figures. Breen finished with six points and Sydney Taylor added five. Destiney Philoxy added nine, including one of the three 3-pointers UMass hit on the night.

Barring any delay due to the impending snowstorm, UMass will make their way to Philadelphia to take on Saint Josephs on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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