Sam Breen’s big night a positive sign moving forward

Breen had her fourth double-double of the season and the 44th of her career

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Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

It may not have been the prettiest game, but an ugly win is still a win as the Massachusetts women’s basketball team defeated Yale 72-57 on Wednesday.

Sam “The double-double machine” Breen led the way for UMass (7-1), totaling 25 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Before the fourth quarter had even begun, Breen notched her fourth double-double of the season and the 44th of her career. The feat is without a doubt a remarkable achievement for the superstar player, but to UMass fans this comes as no surprise.

Breen’s total could have potentially been even larger. Had she grabbed two more rebounds against Central Connecticut and scored one more point against Lowell, Breen would have two more double-doubles on the season.

Throughout the season, Breen has not consistently dominated the game and put up eye-popping numbers compared to last year. Her presence on the court always invites a challenge to opposing defenses, but double teams have frustrated her at times, and her shot is not as consistent as it was last season.

Great players persevere through adversity, and Wednesday’s game was a positive sign for Breen moving forward. Against the Bulldogs (4-4), the Minutewomen leaned on Breen, who shot 11-for-18 from the field and hit three of her four attempts from the free throw line. She never left the court, playing all 40 minutes for UMass.

“There was definitely a little stretch there where I lost a little bit of confidence,” Breen said. “I was just in a slump. But having a good stretch of practices and just kind of like getting that back I think has been definitely needed for me. I’m a little bit more confident underneath again and just getting the shots I got last year.”

All game long, Yale refused to go away. With five minutes to go, Destiney Philoxy got the ball to Breen , who was already posted up on her defender down low in the paint. Using a spin move, Breen created enough separation from her defender to scoop the ball up with her left hand and bank it home off the glass.

To head coach Tory Verdi, double-doubles and this level of productivity is something he has come to expect from Breen.

“I think I’ve always said that and when it’s not I’m like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” Verdi said of Breen’s consistency. “All kidding aside, I thought offensively she did a really nice job for us. I would have liked to see her score a little bit more in the first half, but I thought that in the second half, she tried to get buckets for us and she did that.”

Breen impacted the game in other areas, as well. In the second quarter, Breen swiped the ball from a Yale player and found a streaking Sydney Taylor up the court, who splashed the 3-pointer as the Bulldogs called timeout.

UMass won by double digits but the final score didn’t represent the frequent mistakes the Minutewomen made throughout the total 40 minutes.

“I just felt that we weren’t connected and you saw that within our unforced turnovers,” Verdi said. “We were sloppy, and we were trying to thread the needle on passes to the post and they were going out of bounds. We just got to be better than that and that was the part that was disappointing. But, when we needed to, Sam Breen obviously came through, scored a ton of points for us and rebounds.”

UMass extended its winning streak to six games in a row, and will get back on the road to Tempe, Arizona to compete in the Briann January Classic, where it will play Arizona State and Missouri.

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