UMass women’s basketball escapes Richmond with a thrilling overtime victory

Ber’Nyah Mayo made the game-winning shot


Caitlin Mott/Daily Collegian

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

In a meeting between the two top scoring offenses in the Atlantic 10 conference, defenses dominated until Ber’Nyah Mayo banked home a one-handed layup to clinch the 73-72 victory over Richmond in overtime.

It was an ugly offensive game for UMass (14-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10). The team shot 32.5 percent from the field and 17.5 percent from the 3-point line. They were lackadaisical when passing the ball, which Richmond took advantage of by jumping into passing lanes and accumulating 19 points off the Minutewomen’s 17 committed turnovers.

“Whatever it was, we just didn’t play well,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “We missed a lot of layups early in the first half and turned the ball over and didn’t play the way we were capable of playing. You got to give [Richmond] credit.”

However, UMass tightened up its offense down the stretch and only lost two turnovers in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Trailing the Spiders 63-61 with 40 seconds left in regulation, Sam Breen punched in the game-tying layup off the glass after spinning off her defender to send the game into extended minutes.

“We were really frustrated,” Verdi said. “It’s not always gonna be easy. But, what we did is we figured out how to win. We never gave up and we always and continued to believe every single huddle that we could still win this basketball game. Nobody ever gave up.”

Just like in the game against VCU, when trailing by fiv at halftime, UMass found themselves in a four-point hole at the half. In both games, key adjustments made the difference.

“We talked about doing your job,” Verdi said. “Containing dribble penetration. Being systematic defensively. Boxing out and defending. But, more important, playing harder.”

Breen, Sydney Taylor, Destiney Philoxy and Angelique Ngalakulondi were the most instrumental players in the gritty come-from-behind win.

Breen missed her first ten shot attempts before eventually finding the bottom of the net on a layup in the early portion of the third quarter. She was able to affect the game in other areas, however, as she totaled 14 total rebounds – eight offensive and six defensive – and two assists.

She also went a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line after going 1-of-6 against VCU. Along with the game-tying shot in regulation, Breen started the UMass scoring in overtime with a turnaround jump shot from 3 feet out. She finished with a team-high 19 points.

Taylor logged 16 points and nailed two of the team’s three 3-pointers to go with four rebounds and an assist in 43 minutes. She also had the biggest defensive play of the night with 21 seconds left in overtime when she intercepted a pass intended for a wide-open Richmond player, which helped set up Philoxy free throws.

Philoxy added 11 points, a team-high four assists and a team-high three steals in 41 minutes. Ngalakulondi achieved a stat line of 14 points, 13 total rebounds – seven offensive and six defensive – one assist, one block and one steal in just 34 minutes.

“A sign of a good team is the one that just finished that game,” Verdi said. “Regardless of what happened prior to, we made plays when we needed to make plays. People stepped up and we made those winning plays. That’s a sign of a really good team.”

UMass continues their road trip on Monday in Kingston, Rhode Island when they take on the Rams at 6 p.m.

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