Breaking down the 2022-23 UMass women’s basketball schedule

Tough out of conference games and rivalry matchups highlight the Minutewomen’s highly anticipated season

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Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegian

By Michael Araujo , Collegian Staff

On March 6, 2022, confetti poured down from the ceiling at the Chase Fieldhouse Arena in Wilmington, Delaware as the Massachusetts women’s basketball team defeated Dayton and became the Atlantic 10 tournament champions.

In the press conference following the win, an emotional Tory Verdi talked about winning the day was crucial to winning it all.

“Last year was devastating [to lose in the A-10 final],” UMass coach Tory Verdi said. “As soon as we lost, we talked about how we needed to be different. [Destiny] Philoxy turned to me and said ‘Why do we have to be different when we got to the A-10 championship?’. I said because we didn’t win it. It was from that point forward that we talked about winning the day. That means preparing each and every single day. Coming to practice and giving it our best each and every single day.”

With Verdi focused on the day-to-day, UMass fans can ensure they will be in for a show come game day. Here’s the ones that should be marked on every fan’s calendar:

Nov 7 (Mon) 5 p.m. vs Central Connecticut State

The Minutewomen’s home opener is also their Atlantic 10 Championship Recognition night. Coming off a historic conference championship that also resulted in the program’s third NCAA Tournament bid, this UMass team will soak in the praise before it hosts a Blue Devils team it beat 87-50 last season.

Nov 10 (Thu) 6:30 p.m. at Tennessee

What will undoubtedly be its hardest matchup of the season, UMass will battle No. 5 Tennessee on the road. The Lady Vols are a tall, tough, athletic, and well coached team under Kellie Harper. In three seasons with Tennessee, Harper has garnered a 63-27 record, including a trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last season. The Minutewomen will need to play their best brand of basketball to come away with a win. Mark this one on the calendar.

Nov 14 (Mon) 7 p.m. vs Maine

Nov 18 (Fri) 7 p.m. at Harvard

According to Verdi, the key to beating Harvard is by “out-toughing” them. This game will be a major indication as to how UMass has responded to a strong out-of-conference schedule to begin the season.

Nov 22 (Tue) 6 p.m. at UMass Lowell

Last season, UMass had a bullseye on its back. Its incredible start to the season offered a remarkable opportunity to opposing teams that played them: beat the top dog, and you become the top dog. Lowell nearly accomplished this feat last season but fell short as UMass mounted a late comeback to win 58-53 on its home court. The game this season is the River Hawk’s Super Bowl. Look for them to play accordingly.

FIU Thanksgiving Classic:

Nov 25 (Fri) 2 PM vs Drake, Miami, Fla.

Nov 27 (Sun) 11 AM / 1 PM at FIU or Howard, Miami, Fla.

Nov 30 (Wed) 7 p.m. vs Yale

Arizona State Tournament:

Dec 2 (Fri) 9 p.m. at Arizona State in Tempe, Arizona.

Arizona State’s women’s basketball program welcomed Natasha Adair as its new head coach over the offseason. Adair previously coached Delaware to its first NCAA appearance in almost a decade, and now headlines a very talented Sun Devils roster. Last season, Arizona State split its season series with No. 4 Arizona 1-1, and also went toe-to-toe with No. 10 Creighton, who made it all the way to the Final Four. This game will be a testament to whether UMass will be able to brave the storm in the postseason and make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Dec 3 (Sat) 6 p.m. vs Missouri, Tempe in Arizona.

Another thrilling game in this tournament will be the face off against Missouri, a team that topped the SEC in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. Its ability to connect from beyond the arc will be another tough challenge for UMass.

Dec 10 (Sat) 12 p.m. vs Columbia

The last time these two teams faced off, Angelique Ngalakulondi grabbed her season-high in rebounds with 14, 11 of which were offensive. With the increased height UMass brought to the program with newcomers Laila Fair and Piath Gabriel, it will be worth noting how the rotations size up at the 5-spot at this point in the season, especially with proven veterans Ngalakulondi and Makennah White in the fold.

Dec 21 (Wed) 2 PM vs Saint Peter’s

Dec 28 (Wed) 7 PM vs Dartmouth

Atlantic 10 Conference Play Starts:

Dec 31 (Sat) 2 p.m. vs St. Bonaventure
While St. Bonaventure is not the most intimidating of foes, basketball on New Year’s Eve is an exciting new concept for UMass.

Jan 4 (Wed) 5 p.m. vs Rhode Island

UMass faced Rhode Island twice last year and were defeated in both games by a margin of 22 points. However, the two teams did not face off in the postseason, as the Rams fell to Saint Joseph’s, whom the Minutewomen toppled in the semifinals, 76-58. URI lost all its starters except for Dolly Cairns, but a Tammi Reiss coached team will always be a difficult challenge.

Jan 7 (Sat) 3 p.m. at Loyola Chicago

A new addition to the A-10 conference, Loyola will be looking to make a statement against UMass on its home court.

Jan 14 (Sat) 2 p.m. vs Saint Joseph’s

Jan 18 (Wed) 7 p.m. at Fordham

Had it not been for an incredible step-back two-pointer from Sam Breen in the quarterfinals, Fordham could have upset UMass. The Rams will play UMass with toughness and urgency. Put a star next to this one.

Jan 22 (Sun) 12 p.m. at Dayton

An A-10 Championship rematch will certainly be an anticipated game, even with a depleted Dayton team.

Jan 26 (Thu) 12 p.m. vs VCU

Sydney Taylor led the Minutewomen and scored a career-high 32 points following the team’s multi-weeklong stint with COVID-19 last year versus VCU. Does she have what it takes to top that game at home this time around? Better watch this game to find out.

Jan 29 (Sun) 2 p.m. at Duquesne

Feb 1 (Wed) 7 p.m. vs Richmond

Feb 4 (Sat) 2 p.m. at La Salle

Selected to finish second in the A-10 women’s basketball preseason poll, La Salle will be looking to make a statement against the only team ranked above them. A showdown between the two best teams in the conference will be a must watch.

Feb 8 (Wed) 7 p.m. vs Fordham

Feb 12 (Sun) TBD at George Mason

Feb 16 (Thu) 6 p.m. at Rhode Island

Feb 19 (Sun) 12 p.m. vs Davidson

Sunday marks National Women in Sports Day when UMass hosts Davidson this year. The Wildcats got the best of the Minutewomen last time around, so this game has all the components in place to be a must-watch.

Feb 22 (Wed) 8 PM at Saint Louis

Feb 25 (Sat) 4 p.m. vs George Washington

Senior day. The last dance. This game spells the end of a historic era for the UMass women’s basketball program before the postseason. Be in attendance.

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