UMass storms back late to beat Harvard 77-67

Minutewomen ended game on 11-0 run

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Dylan Nguyen/Daily Collegian (2022)

By Johnny Depin, Assistant Sports Editor

Harvard held a lead for most of the game, but the Massachusetts women’s basketball team stormed back late in the third quarter, eventually winning 77-67. An 11-0 fourth quarter run from the Minutewomen (3-1) put the game out of reach.

UMass trailed 37-31 exiting the break, but outscored Harvard (2-1) 20-13 in the third quarter. Sydney Taylor outscored the Crimson by herself in the quarter, as 18 of her eventual 25 points came in those 10 minutes. It’s the second game in a row where Taylor was the leading scorer after dropping 18 points against Maine on Monday evening.

“[Taylor’s] just a little bit more aggressive, I think the one thing that you guys can see is that she’s starting to crash the boards more,” Minutewomen coach Tory Verdi said. “Sometimes she gets complacent and she starts backpedaling, but getting into the paint, getting second chance opportunities, creating points for herself. But also, it keeps her involved. Someone gets the rebound, [Taylor’s] right there.”

Both sides were struggling to score the ball, but the Minutewomen won the war of attrition by the sheer volume of shots that they attempted. UMass shot the ball 73 times compared to Harvard’s 61, hitting 38.4 percent of its shots to the Crimson’s 39.3 percent. Just over 65 percent of the shot attempts from Harvard came from beyond the arc, as it attempted 40 shots from the 3-point line, canning 11 of them (27.5 percent).

Because shots weren’t falling, free throws become even more important. These are something that the Minutewomen have struggled with, in their previous game they went 2-6 from the line. UMass bucked that trend Friday, going 16-16 from the charity stripe. Many of these free throws came in the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach for Harvard.

“I want to see it continue, that’s it. That’s an achilles heel,” Verdi said. “We got to step up to the free throw line, we got to make shots, and we were able to do that [Friday].”

The environment for Friday’s contest was quite different from any other environment the Minutewomen played in this season. A small, closed in court made every voice louder. That seemed to have affected the Crimson more than UMass however; Harvard had 20 turnovers compared to the Minutewomen’s 12.

Defense and rebounding were areas of concern for UMass early in the season, though it seems as though those worries have disappeared. It outrebounded Harvard by seven on Friday night and had more offensive rebounds than it did defensive rebounds (22-21). Destiney Philoxy led the way with 11 boards, while Ber’Nyah Mayo grabbed nine of her own. Both Philoxy and Taylor finished with two steals.

“What makes Harvard so hard to beat, you’re so concerned about the 3-point shot, that then [it] puts the ball on the floor and gets you in rotation,” Verdi said. “What is so impressive is just the ‘want to’ that we had here [on Friday]. To me, that just shouts out experience.”

It was a balanced scoring attack from the Minutewomen on Friday night, with four players finishing in double figures. Makennah White was UMass’ second leading scorer, finishing with 18 points. Philoxy was three assists shy of a triple double, finishing with 10 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

The Minutewomen are next in action on Tuesday, Nov. 22, taking on UMass Lowell in Lowell. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

“Great win for us, great win,” Verdi said. “Great basketball game. I just loved our toughness down the stretch, and we didn’t give up. We found a way to win when we didn’t play our best basketball.”

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101.