Strong, consistent defensive effort by UMass leads to win

Destiney Philoxy draws three key charges

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Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

By Rachel Toth, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s effort on defense overshadowed its frequent blunders on offense on Wednesday.

Although Fordham (12-7, 4-2 Atlantic 10) and UMass (14-4, 4-1 A-10) are the two highest scoring teams in the A-10, both offenses were severely lacking. UMass, however, found a way to win through its defense.

“We did a really good job of keeping them in front of us,” head coach Tory Verdi said.

The Rams offense was held to nine points in the first quarter by way of shot-clock violations and tight defense on key player Asiah Dingle. Ber’Nyah Mayo did not allow Dingle to find her rhythm throughout the first half, giving the Minutewomen  the boost they needed into the second.

Before this game, Fordham averaged the lowest number of turnovers per game in the A-10 with 13.3, but it finished the game with 19. The Rams now average 13.6, a small bump up, but they do not hold the lowest average anymore.

The two strongest players on Fordham, Dingle and Anna DeWolfe, accounted for six and four of these turnovers, respectively. These turnovers weren’t just missed passes, they consisted of travels and carries as well.

With Dingle, it seemed the referees were looking for her to travel after her first two violations. These travels were a result of the Minutewomen’s lockdown defense, proving to be steady throughout the entirety of the game.

Fordham’s rushed offense forced by UMass’ stellar defense racked up turnovers that left players throwing up last minute shots or passes that were intercepted. The Minutewomen grabbed six steals from the Rams and converted 12 points off Fordham’s turnovers.

Coming out into the second half, UMass went on a 9-0 run, an outcome of its defensive effort.

The aggressive defense did not stop there. Destiney Philoxy drew two charges in the first half, creating more frustration for the Rams offense. This performance by Philoxy is not abnormal to her style of play. She is in the top one percent of players in the United States when it comes to charges drawn per game, averaging 1.5 coming into Wednesday’s contest.

Philoxy drew another key charge from Matilda Flood with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter, reviving the Mintuewomen defense for the remainder of the game.

UMass’ consistent defense was mainly spread out along the perimeter. Although Fordham relies on outside shots, many were not falling. Still, through UMass’ strong defense, DeWolfe, found the back of the net seven times from the behind 3-point line.

The Rams continued to fire shots from behind the arc and just inside of it, shying away from the paint. They mainly relied on fast-break opportunities to notch their points in the painted area.

Defense was played until the very last quarter, with Philoxy making a pivotal play again. She found herself in a tie up with DeWolfe with 4:05 left to go in the fourth quarter, with UMass only up by three. UMass gained possession, keeping the Rams from tying the game.

“Tough win. Just toughness tonight,” Verdi said.

Rachel Toth can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RachelToth46.