UMass ends non conference play with a 77-58 win over Dartmouth

Ber’Nyah Mayo, Makennah White lead UMass to victory at home


Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

Ber’Nyah Mayo practically bounced between two defenders, switched hands in the air to throw up a one handed shot as she fell to the ground. The ref blew the whistle and the junior guard’s team met her with cheers before she sank the free throw for the 3-point play.

Mayo’s crafty and one bookended the latter two quarters, as she ended the third quarter the same way she started the fourth, taking the ball into Dartmouth, drawing contact, grabbing the layup and chance for three. To close out the third quarter, Mayo sat at the top of the key holding the ball, and with just about 10 seconds to go, she recognized the Big Green’s (2-12) wide spread defense so she took it herself, drawing a foul with three seconds to play. Her teammates celebrated her play as she ran out of bounds but she didn’t let out much celebration of her own.

Once Mayo grabbed her second big play in a row with 9:25 in the fourth, she let out a little smile.

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team needed the successful transition basketball that Mayo provided to stretch the lead in the second half, after the opening two quarters were plagued with UMass (10-3) turnovers. Dartmouth picked off a fair share of potential transition buckets as the Minutewomen failed to value each offensive possession early on.

“I think the one thing about this team is that when we are on, we are really good and I just felt like at times today we weren’t connected,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “We want to come out and be up 20 points in the first two minutes [so] we kind of force it, we rush … I thought Dartmouth did a really good job, they contained us on ball screens so we have to just let the game come to us and I thought at times we forced it.”

UMass started the game with five turnovers in the first quarter, followed by six in the second which came by way of poor decision making according to Verdi. Run out plays with overthrown passes, 3-on-1 opportunities that had one too many pass and didn’t end in a layup, or travel violations as defenders stepped over. Whatever the Minutewomen were attempting to do early wasn’t working.

Within the first half chaos, Makennah White was once again a bright spot off the bench. With 2:50 to go in the first, Mayo threaded the needle perfectly to find White who completed the layup through contact. In the following quarter, with 6:25 to play till halftime, Mayo once again dribbled through the Big Green’s defense to hit White, this time for a nice jumper.

“Her communication … she becomes the glue because she is telling everybody what is going on … for [White] the game isn’t too fast because she is so smart and she picks up all the concepts on both sides of the ball,” Verdi said.

White had 15 points on the night to go with five rebounds, two steals and a block. The junior forward started the second half and finished with her fifth double digit game of the season and her fifth consecutive game with 10-plus points. Mayo had 17 points of her own and dished a team high seven assists. The two combined for 32 of the Minutewomen’s 56 total points in the paint.

Once UMass picked up on the success of the forward and guard duo in White and Mayo, things began to click. Destiney Philoxy lobbed the ball to Sydney Taylor who sprinted the floor for the reverse layup in the fourth quarter. White followed a few plays later with a pass to Mayo who low bounce passed it to Sam Breen for two. Piling on to the late game lead, Laila Fair found a wide open Angelique Ngalakulondi for a wide open layup, pushing the score to 67-46 with less than six to play.

“Once we settled down a little bit and stopped getting unforced turnovers, I think we really played our game,” Breen said. “They went on a little run here and there where they hit a few shots but overall, we stayed pretty grounded and connected. Once shots started falling, we started driving to the basket, that started working for us and helped us get momentum.”

Taylor finished the night the way that White started it, with an and one of her own as Mayo perfectly timed a lob pass over the Dartmouth defender to fall into Taylor’s hands on the run, drawing contact on the made basket. Taylor had 12 points and eight rebounds, while Breen led the way with a quiet 20 on 9-for-15 shooting from the field. Philoxy chipped in nine points with four assists.

UMass almost lost the rebounding game after being outrebounded in the first but picked things up to finish with a 38-32 advantage on the glass. The Big Green failed to connect on more passes after four than the Minutewomen did, as UMass had 21 turnovers to Dartmouth’s 26.

Things now turn to Atlantic 10 play, as the Minutewomen kick off conference play at home against St. Bonaventure on Dec. 31. Tip off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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