UMass squashes Duquesne on Sunday 89-59

‘We shared the basketball offensively and it was beautiful to watch’

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Thom Kendall/ UMass Athletics

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

While senior day for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team honored just one active player, it was a full team effort that destroyed Duquesne 89-59 on Sunday.

Coming off a crushing win against George Mason just 48 hours prior, UMass (20-5, 8-3 Atlantic 10) took play to the next level against the Dukes (9-15, 4-8 A-10) shooting 50 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from behind the 3-point line and maintained a lead for nearly 38 of 40 total minutes.

“We had a sense of urgency about ourselves,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “We shared the basketball offensively and it was beautiful to watch. We had some good shots where people could have pulled the trigger, but we made the extra pass and got a great shot in. A complete overall game inside, outside, change of possession, we ran, we scored, we executed our game plan and I thought that we defended as well.”

With just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter, Ber’Nyah Mayo drew two defenders and hit Makennah White as she backed down into her defender. White then passed out to Sam Breen in the corner who had space but instead kicked to Sydney Taylor a few feet to Breen’s right for the nothing but net 3-pointer.

Duquesne left a lot of room for the Minutewomen to attack the seams. Its widespread defense pushed UMass to move the ball around and take shots around the perimeter. Just over a minute after the Minutewomen’s offensive clinic of inside out basketball, Destiney Philoxy conducted play inside. With 1:41 left in the half, Philoxy dribbled out the shot clock and hit White for a fade away layup. White’s finish through contact sent her to the charity stripe as Verdi’s fist pumped in celebration along with a roar of cheers from the UMass bench.

“We knew that they were going to play some 2-3 zone today and I didn’t want to be passive and pass the ball around the perimeter of the zone,” Verdi said. “We wanted to attack the gaps, collapse it, and then try to get high percent shots around the rim or drive and kick.”

Sydney Taylor effortlessly destroyed the Dukes from downtown, nailing 60 percent of her 3-point attempts and finishing at all levels on offense. She got herself going early from behind the arc but continued to attack the rim through contact all game. Taylor finished 18 points, one assists and three rebounds.

On the offensive end for Duquesne, there was a heavy dependency on perimeter shooting. From the get-go, it was mainly one and done shooting that put the defensive rebound in the hands of UMass following a quick shot attempt. The Minutewomen won the battle on the boards 44-28, with a breakdown of a 13-6 offensive rebound advantage and 31-22 on the defensive end.

The Dukes shot 34 percent from the field, had 20 points in the paint, six second chance points and only two in transition. Duquesne had a cleaner passing game with 11 total turnovers to UMass’ 12.

While Duquesne struggled, Tess Myers herself did not. The freshman put on a show in Amherst from the opening tip, starting the game with a crisp 3-pointer on the go and proceeded to have the Dukes offense move through her the majority of the game. Within the first few minutes of Sunday’s game, she had two 3-pointers.

The game was comfortably in favor of the Minutewomen early on however Myers did have her share of momentum stopping moments. In the fourth, after a missed layup from Taylor, Philoxy hit a 3-pointer in front of the UMass bench, but Myers answered right back. Once Mayo wanted in on the 3-point success, Myers once again quieted the bench with another triple for her stat sheet. Myers finished with a team high 19 points.

Mayo had her highlight reel moment to kick off the fourth with a steal and layup through contact but did not get help from the refs for the 3-point play. Mayo finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.

From start to finish, it was the Philoxy show. In the first quarter, Philoxy attacked in transition to outrun a slow Dukes defense and set the tone for guards to follow for the remaining three. On senior day, Philoxy flirted with a triple double, finishing with 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds. After an emotional day, Philoxy exited with 54 seconds left to a standing ovation and embraced Verdi for a courtside hug.

Multiple Minutewomen went home with a double-digit game. Alongside Taylor, Mayo and Philoxy, Breen added 13 and Angelique Ngalakulondi chipped in 10. White finished with five points and seven rebounds.

UMass stays home to face A-10 rival Fordham on Wednesday. The showdown begins at 7 p.m.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Lulukesin.