Sam Breen records first career triple-double with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists

Breen becomes first to hit triple-double mark since Nov. 17, 2000

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Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

11 assists sets Sam Breen apart from Jennifer Butler, the only other member of the Massachusetts women’s basketball program to record a triple-double. On Nov. 17 2000, Butler hit that milestone in points, rebounds and steals. To close out 2022, Breen had a historic game of her own, with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

“I didn’t know until the end of the game right before I went back in, so having the assists already is not usually the thing I have in double figures so that was shocking, but super exciting, I think coach Verdi says all the time that I am not a facilitator but I think I showed tonight that I can be,”  Breen said with laughter.

Breen was stuck at nine points when head coach Tory Verdi subbed her out with 4:03 remaining in the game. Before Breen met her teammates on the bench, Verdi stopped her on the sideline at mid court. When asked what he said to his captain, Verdi just smiled and said I told her she needed to box out and rebound.

36 seconds later, Breen subbed back in with the knowledge that all she needed was a single point to make history. What stood in her way was a missed layup but eventually a jumper put Breen on the list with Butler, thanks to a defensive rebound and pass from floor general Ber’Nyah Mayo.

“All kidding aside, I can’t believe Sam had 11 assists on the day,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “I am super proud of her … unbelievable but I am not surprised.”

Breen is averaging 18.3 points on the season thus far, compared to her 17.3 points per game in the 2021-22 year and 18.1 2020-21. Oddly enough, on the record breaking night, points were the hardest category to nail down. On the year, Breen has only averaged three assists, .3 more than the 2021-22 season.

“She doesn’t care how many points she scores, as long as we win, her character is unreal … its team basketball and she understands she is going to get double teamed, she is going to make the right play and the most important thing to her is our team and what our team does, the outcome but that is who she’s always been, she’s not caught up in scoring, she cares about winning and she will do everything in her power to make sure that happens,” Verdi said.

Mayo and or Destiney Philoxy typically lead the team in assists by nature of their position, as they both excel in finding the open man. Mayo is averaging 4.3 assists on the year, with Philoxy bringing in an average of 5.2 in her fifth year for the Minutewomen (11-3, 1-0 A-10). On Saturday, with St. Bonaventure’s (3-13, 0-1 Atlantic 10) immediate collapse once Breen looked to seal off her defender and spin, she recognized her open teammates and capitalized. Mayo fundamentally streaked back door on the baseline with 6:24 in the third quarter, catching the pass from Breen, switching hands and hitting the reverse layup.

“It goes to show she is unselfish, she is going to make the right passes out and we play team basketball,” Verdi said. “Extremely proud of her but I am not surprised.”

With 1:08 to play in the same quarter, Breen picked up her eighth assist of the day by way of a Sydney Taylor layup. Breen found Taylor beautifully in transition, Taylor saw Philoxy running parallel, made the defender play both and took a floater through contact for the 3-point play, cutting the Bonnnies’ temporary resurgence and pushing the score 47-38 in favor of UMass.

“I’m super proud of Sam, no surprise there I’ve seen it coming from a mile away,” Taylor said of her co-veteran.

Taylor had 16 points of her own, nine of them coming from behind the 3-point line and her first triple of the day assisted by Breen.

UMass ends the year in the winning column and welcomes Rhode Island, who stole two regular season wins from the Minutewomen last year, to Amherst on Jan. 4. Tip off is set for 5 p.m.

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