Sydney Taylor electrifies Dayton, scores a career high seven 3’s on Sunday

Taylor drops 30 points on career high 11 field goals

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Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin , Sports Editor

Sydney Taylor ate eggs, bacon and oatmeal for breakfast. Then she got into pregame warm ups and by the time the first half buzzer sounded, she was perfect. The senior guard had 23 points on 8-for-8 from the field, 6-for-6 from the 3-point line, hitting every shot she took to light up the Massachusetts women’s basketball’s offense after two quarters.

Less than two minutes into the second half,  Taylor recorded her first miss. It took nearly three whole quarters for Taylor to misfire and for the remainder of the game, she didn’t miss another one. Taylor dropped 30 points on 11-12 shooting, including seven 3-pointers in Sunday’s win against Dayton, just two points shy of her career high.

“When you look at what she did here today, her want to, her aggressiveness, I thought she was outstanding,” head coach Tory Verdi said of Taylor.

Opening quarters have been UMass’ (15-4, 5-1 Atlantic 10) kryptonite this season, as the Minutewomen’s cold starts are a much needed area of improvement especially in conference play. The last time the Flyers (3-15, 2-5 A-10) played UMass, it was in the A-10 championship when the Minutewomen defeated an entirely different Dayton team. Then head coach Shauna Green was scheming ways to stop Taylor from behind the arc, and on Sunday, head coach Tamika Williams-Jeter had what looked like an impossible task.

With 30 seconds to play in the opening quarter, Taylor hit her fourth 3-pointer of the first 10 minutes as she fell to the ground in front of the Dayton bench, extending the lead to three after a late Flyers run tied things up at 13 towards the end of the first.

Dayton’s man defense spread wide but Taylor’s quick release saw no trouble even with defenders sprinting out to contest. She hit two contested three pointers from the same spot in front of the Flyers’ bench and off an inbounds with 2:04 left in the first, Taylor caught the ball towards the left elbow, using Makennah White’s pick, stepping back into a deep 3-pointer.

Verdi said post game that he sought a sense of urgency right out of the gate from his entire team. On Sunday, it started with Taylor and ended with Taylor, as Verdi said she had a near perfect game.

The multidimensional aspect of Taylor’s performance on Sunday proved to be the difference as her success didn’t just come by way of her 3-pointer. While she is known to do exactly what she did: knock down multiple triples, it was her blanket effort on both sides of the ball that showed up on the road. 5:38 to play in the second quarter, Ber’Nyah Mayo stole the ball on one end, dribbled it down the court with poise, drew defenders, dishes to Taylor who made the layup in traffic for the and one three point play.

After Taylor saw her first and only miss of the day, about 30 seconds later on the next play down, Taylor drove left from the 3-point line, crossed between her legs to beat a defender, drew two more Flyers and hit a running White on the drop down layup.

Not long after Taylor notched two career highs on an easy right sided layup.

Taylor is averaging 15.4 points per game this year, compared to 15.9 in her junior season and 15.6 in her sophomore breakout year. The senior hit a landmark in November against Lowell, scoring her 1000th career point in less than three years of playing for UMass, after she saw just an average of 6.1 minutes her rookie season. Verdi hasn’t been shy about how instrumental Taylor is to the Minutewomen offense but specifically, scoring on multiple levels which she excelled at on Sunday.

In Wednesday’s win against Fordham, Taylor had just 10 points on 1-for-5 shooting from 3-point territory, fueling what she claimed was a much needed offensive switch coming into Dayton just four days later. Taylor single handedly outscored the entire Flyers roster to start the day, scoring eight points of the early 10-2 UMass run.

UMass and Taylor now head back home to host VCU in the Mullins Center on Thursday, with tipoff scheduled for 12 p.m.

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