UMass’ offensive rebounding prowess continues to grow

Minutewomen snag 17 offensive boards

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Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

By Johnny Depin , Assistant Sports Editor

Sydney Taylor was canning it from 3-point-land all game long for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team. Arizona State left the paint wide open and Ber’Nyah Mayo came crashing in for the offensive rebound. Mayo found Sam Breen to the right of the free throw line which Breen then failed to knock down the mid-range jumper. Mayo got the offensive board once again and reset the offense, eventually blowing by her defender, forcing help and allowing Angelique Ngalakulondi to get the easy two points off the layup.

Rebounding was the way much of the night went for UMass, as it defeated the Sun Devils (6-2) 88-64. The Minutewomen (8-1) have been improving their rebounding since their season opener against Central Connecticut State, in which they were out rebounded 38-32. Since the season opener, UMass has been building an identity as a physical, no-nonsense team that will crash the boards and run in transition.

The continued growth of this identity was seen on Friday night, as the Minutewomen grabbed 17 offensive rebounds which led to 12 second chance points. Offensive rebounding opens a whole new dimension of offense for UMass, as shooters will be more inclined to pull the trigger knowing that someone in the paint will give them a second chance opportunity.

“[Offensive rebounding] was one of our keys offensively, at the change of possession we wanted to run because I thought that we were quicker than them,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “On shots, we wanted four people crashing the boards and we wanted second chance opportunities. We gobbled them up, and if we weren’t able to put them back, then we got fouled, went to the free throw line and so forth.”

Ngalakulondi and Mayo led the way on offensive boards for the Minutewomen, as they each pulled down four. Breen and Laila Fair added three offensive rebounds of their own, with Fair accomplishing the feat in 20 minutes compared to Breen’s 36 minutes. Breen led the way in total rebounding with 11.

Ngalakulondi co-leading the team in offensive rebounding is no surprise, as she came into Friday’s game ranked seventh in the country in offensive rebounds per game. After Friday’s game, she is now averaging 4.22 offensive rebounds per game, almost half a rebound better than Breen, who is second on the team with 3.77 offensive rebounds per game. Ngalakulondi’s impact on the offensive boards can be seen beyond this game, as in every game where she has played 20 minutes or more, she grabbed at least four offensive boards.

“These are things that I see on a regular basis, [Ngalakulondi] and I talk all the time,” Verdi said. “She was pretty frustrated coming into this game because she hasn’t had an opportunity to score the ball. I just told her ‘relax, it will come back’. That’s what I love about her and love about my team, they want to win and they want to be perfect.”

Through nine games, UMass has amassed 137 offensive rebounds, which is 15.22 offensive boards per game. In 33 games last season, the Minutewomen snagged 454 offensive rebounds, which averages to 13.75 per game.

With 20 games remaining in the regular season, UMass is on pace to match its performance from last season, a season in which it won the A-10 tournament and made it to March Madness. For a team on the precipice of repeating those accomplishments and more, offensive rebounding will remain crucial to the success of this squad.

The Minutewomen next play on Saturday, Dec. 3, taking on Missouri in day two of the Briann January Classic. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.

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