UMass loses its second game in a row, falling to Dayton 69-60

back-to-back losses for the first time this year

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Chris Tucci / UMass Athletics

By James DiLuca, Collegian Staff

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team faced off against fellow Atlantic 10 powerhouse Dayton and at the end of the first half UMass found themselves in a position very similar to the spot it was in against Rhode Island this past Monday.

The Minutewomen’s past two games have seen them come out of the gates slow, which results in having to play from behind for the majority of the game. UMass shot just 28.5 percent from the field and turned the ball over 10 times in the first half against Dayton.

These struggles resulted in UMass facing an 11-point deficit going into halftime that ultimately proved to be too much to overcome.

“We didn’t play together in the first half,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said. “I thought that we were rushing shots, we were playing a lot of one on ones instead of playing together… We were shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Out of the break UMass came out with energy as Destiny Philoxy found a wide-open Angelique Ngalakulondi for an easy layup. The Minutewomen then allowed their defense to turn into offense as off a Sam Breen steal UMass found themselves with a three on one fast break which resulted in another layup for Ngalakulondi.

After a Sam Breen mid-range jumper and a Philoxy three the Minutewomen found themselves down by four with seven minutes to go in the third quarter.

After UMass’s 9-2 run to open the third, Dayton was able to settle into its offense. The Flyers ran their offense through Erin Whalen and Tenin Magassa who both got hot in the third quarter.

Whalen caught fire from 3-point range hitting triples in the quarter. Dayton’s star guard scored 12 of her 21 points in the third. As for Magassa the 6-foot-5 inch center imposed her will inside scoring 10 points in the third quarter herself. Magassa’s size was simply too much to handle down low as she was often able to establish post position down low.

Magassa had an all-around strong game finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals.

For the Minutewomen both Breen and Philoxy shouldered most of the offensive workload. Breen finished 19 points on 7-14 shooting to along with 12 boards. Philoxy added another 19 points while dishing out five assists. Philoxy also made all eight of her free throw attempts.

Despite coming up short, both players did their best to keep UMass afloat in the fourth quarter as Breen knocked down back-to-back threes to cut Dayton’s lead into single digits with 7:21 to go. Philoxy put pressure on Dayton’s defense by slashing to the hoop and getting to the foul line.

Reserves Michelle Pruitt and Stefanie Kulesza both saw action, and each got into the scoring column for the Minutewomen.

“The longer we go we need somebody else to step up,” Verdi said of his bench. “It’s really simple, you know where to go, what to do, do the right thing, work hard… that will get you on the floor.

The reigning A-10 player of the week Sydney Taylor struggled with her shot going just 1-10 in 30 minutes of play. Taylor is potentially in the middle of a cold streak as she went 2-9 from the field in UMass last contest against URI.

UMass has been in the midst of conference play which means that its strength of schedule has increased along with the number of games. The Minutewomen have played four games in the past week.

“I think this definitely prepared us for the A-10 tournament,” Breen said. “We are not playing our best basketball right now and we have a lot factors going into that, but by the time the A-10 tournament comes we will be playing our best basketball.”

UMass will take the court again this Saturday on the road against George Washington. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

James DiLuca can be reached at [email protected].