UMass finishes strong in the fourth quarter, defeats Fordham 66-57

Turnovers hurt both teams, but UMass prevails with 27-point fourth quarter

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Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team clinched a 66-57 win over Fordham on Wednesday night. In a showdown between the top two scoring offenses in the Atlantic 10 conference, it was a lackluster, sloppy game until the fourth frame began.

As the third quarter concluded, UMass (14-4, 4-1 A-10) struggled to find the bottom of the basket. The team shot a collective 15-for-43 from the field, and the reigning player of the year Sam Breen had four points on 1-for-6 shooting.

“We had some really good looks in the first half, the ball just wasn’t dropping for us, but we had some really good looks,” head coach Tory Verdi said about the early shooting woes. “They’ll drop for us and eventually we’ll get it going on both ends of the floor.”

Leading by seven points, the Minutewomen’s offense came alive to hold off a ferocious fourth quarter comeback attempt by Fordham (12-7, 4-2 A-10). UMass shot 50 percent on 7-for-14 shooting in the final frame.

Anna DeWolfe scorched UMass for a season-high 33 points on a season-high seven made 3-pointers. She nailed two triples to begin the fourth quarter and make it a one score game. After a frontcourt press caused a Destiney Philoxy turnover and led to an Asiah Dingle layup, the game was tied at 44-all.

From that point on, the two teams traded hoops back-and-forth throughout the quarter.

After carrying the load offensively all game long, Ber’Nyah Mayo came up clutch and splashed a 3-pointer to give her team a three point cushion. With less than two minutes remaining, Makennah White netted a crucial putback shot.

After a quick basket from Dingle, Breen answered on the next possession by impossibly fighting away from two defenders in the paint, and banking home a shot off the glass while falling to the ground. Breen tallied 10 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.

As the clock wound down, DeWolfe hit two 3-pointers as the Rams desperately tried to stay in the game, but the Minutewomen buckled down and iced the game from the charity stripe.

The contest was riddled with turnovers by both teams. The Rams, who average the least amount of giveaways in the A-10 with 13.3 per game, committed 14 in the first half and 19 in the game. UMass had 20.

Mayo anchored her team with 18 points, five rebounds, an assist and three steals. Currently, Mayo sits third in the conference and 21st in the nation in steals per game with an average of 2.9.

“Fordham did a really good job, and they were glued to our post-game,” Verdi said. “It gives [Mayo] an opportunity to go one-on-one, and opens up the middle third of the floor. [Mayo] did a great job of attacking downhill and getting to the basket and was creating for herself.”

Before the start of the season, Verdi knew his squad would have a bullseye on its back each and every time it took the court. To be the hunters and not the hunted, he knows his team has to continue to improve.

“We are pulling away, but we got to play better,” Verdi said. “We have got to value the ball more and we’ve got to be a little bit more disciplined offensively. Our post players need to do a better job of being ultra-physical and owning the key. I feel like we’re getting pushed out and then we’re getting double teamed. We’ve got to be able to execute our double team plays and then finish around the rim.”

UMass will look to extend its three-game win streak as it heads to Dayton, Ohio to take on the Flyers on Sunday at 12 p.m.

Michael Araujo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @araujo_michael_.