UMass storms back late and holds Drake scoreless in OT to win 100-83

Minutewomen pull off a 17-0 overtime run

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Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team completed what some might say was an unthinkable comeback. Drake dominated the latter halves of play, with a 10 point lead over UMass (5-1) with one minute to play in the third. The Bulldogs (2-2) even had a two point lead with 33 seconds in the game.

Ber’Nyah Mayo with ice in her veins nailed a jumper to tie things at 83. With the ball and clock on their side, the Bulldogs used the time they could to set up a game wining opportunity only to be stopped at the hands of Destiney Philoxy who stole the ball with four seconds left, forcing more basketball to be played. Drake’s score did not change in the following minutes but the Minutewomen’s flourished to 100 by the time the overtime buzzer sounded.

Sydney Taylor’s deep 3-pointer with 50 seconds to play in regulation kick started the historic play to follow. Taylor’s 26 point of the day cut the deficit to two, only to set Mayo up for the game tying shot. In between the successful shooting for UMass, Philoxy’s true to character performance prevented a Drake lead as the graduate student drew a charge on the play after Taylor’s shot to put the ball back in the hands of her team. The Minutewomen hadn’t taken the lead since the second quarter, with the Bulldogs largest lead being 10 in the second half, for UMass it being just 10 in the first. The wave of perfect basketball drowned the Drake defense in the waning minutes of regulation, only to be completely washed away by the Minutewomen for the entire overtime period.

“I thought that our will to win was unreal,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “Just so thrilled for us, huge win for us against a really good team … I thought that down the stretch, we found ways to win, we were faster, our guards did a great job getting steals, layups … super proud of our effort here today, big win for our program.”

Philoxy started the overtime period how she ended the game, with another charge drawn. Verdi told media before the game to expect that Drake will aggressively drive into the paint, preparing players like Philoxy who usually get set in spots to take advantage. Her defensive efforts made all the difference in the stark offensive drought for the Bulldogs, but her offense was just as important. She reached double figures with 11 points with just under two minutes to play in the third quarter and finished with 20 points, nine of them being crucial in the fourth and overtime. Philoxy started the extra minutes with two made free throws and had two layups to follow.

“They were huge,” Verdi said of Philoxy’s charges drawn. “It gives us the possession, they are turnovers for [Drake], it changed the momentum of the game and gave us confidence … overall she did what graduate students should do for you … there is a reason why she came back [to UMass] and her energy, her want to, her toughness was the difference for us.”

Mayo’s offensive leadership to bring things to overtime followed through for the entirety of extra minutes. Mayo’s floater brought it to a four point lead before Taylor hit another lethal 3-pointer to make it seven. Sam Breen’s layup pushed it to nine which forced Drake to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. Mayo ripped the bandaid right off with a steal out of the timeout, taking it coast to coast herself to push it to 11 in favor of UMass. On the inbounds, another steal by Mayo fed Philoxy for two to make it 13.

Laila Fair, who played her most minutes in a Minutewomen jersey of the year so far played ultimately crucial ones. The transfer had a block on the other end to keep the Bulldogs scoreless, filling in the shoes of Angelique Ngalakulondi who fouled out with six minutes in the fourth. Ngalakulondi had herself a day even with the five fouls as part of her stat line, grabbing her eighth career double double and second of the year with 13 points and 12 rebounds on Friday.

Ngalakulondi was first five for UMass on Friday per usual but played extended minutes with Makennah White in a walking boot. Fair had early minutes rotating with Ngalakulondi but played the bulk of her game on Friday in the later minutes, grabbing four rebounds on the day. White had 16 points on Tuesday at Lowell, and Friday made it clear that for a majority of the game, UMass missed its energy source.

Philoxy and Ngalakulondi were just two of five total Minutewomen in double figures. Taylor’s 3-point shooting and multidimensional offense led the way with 29 points, with six rebounds and three assists as well. Taylor’s fellow captain in Philoxy had 20 total points with four steals and five assists, also drawing those crucial charges on the defensive end. Mayo’s offensive prowess equaled 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting. She had six assists and went a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe, snagging five steals on the other end. What looked to be a slow offensive night once again for Breen turned into a double digit performance, tying Mayo at 19 on the day. Breen’s buckets were well timed for the Minutewomen to add fuel in their comeback. Breen was visibly excited and amped following the extra point opportunity on a layup to start the fourth quarter, giving her a boost of energy that ultimately turned into a team wide momentum shift.

The 17-0 run in the overtime period silenced Drake’s early success in the third quarter and for parts of the fourth. UMass had as large as a 10 point lead in the first half and took control for a majority of the opening quarter but by the time the buzzer sounded after four quarters plus an extra five minutes, early stats meant nothing.

UMass will now shift gears to Sunday morning, as the Minutewomen take on FIU at 1 p.m. still down in the sunshine state.

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