Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Saint Louis snaps UMass win streak

Minutewomen lose board battle 45-35
Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

With the shot clock turned off and the Massachusetts women’s basketball team down three, it controlled its own destiny with its winning streak on the line. The plan was clear from the moment the ball passed half court: get Sam Breen a look in the post for a quick two and then foul. Breen caught the ball at the high post, before executing a half-spin, throwing up a shot that rolled off the right side of the rim.

Ber’Nyah Mayo grabbed the offensive board and hoisted a desperation 3-pointer of her own; an air-ball. Breen managed to grab the ball that was inches away from going out of bounds before she also put up a shot from distance that clanked off the left side of the rim. The Minutewomen (23-5, 13-2 Atlantic 10) and Saint Louis began to play the foul game, before Breen hit a one-legged shot from beyond the arc to bring them back within two with 0.4 seconds left and all hope of a comeback dashed. The Billikens (13-17, 9-6 A-10) won 77-75.

“We wanted to get the first available [shot] and we were going to continue to follow it,” head coach Tory Verdi said. “There was plenty of time left in the game, and I still had one timeout left.”

Saint Louis, known as a physical and paint-centric team, scored just over 40 percent of its points in the paint. It also outrebounded UMass 45-35 overall and 17-14 on offensive boards. Breen led the Minutewomen in both offensive and defensive rebounds, grabbing three and six respectively. Makennah White was second on the team in rebounds with seven, while no other member of the Minutewomen had over four.

The Billikens turned these offensive rebounds into 13 second chance points compared to UMass’ eight.

“They crushed us on the boards … we got to be better than that,” Verdi said. “We gave up 17 offensive rebounds, that’s unheard of. Coming into this game, we knew that was one of the number one things we needed to do, we needed to box out and rebound.”

After shooting 71.4 percent from the floor in the opening 10 minutes, UMass struggled with making buckets for the remaining 30 minutes. It shot a hair above 32 percent from the floor in the latter three quarters, with its best quarter of those three from a field goal percentage perspective coming in the fourth quarter when it shot 38.1 percent.

“We were playing together a little bit more [in the first quarter],” Verdi said. “I thought that at times, it was one-on-one. We don’t play that way. Regardless of what they did to us defensively, we’ve got to play together. We need [Sydney Taylor] to play the way she’s capable of playing.”

Despite their struggles with rebounding and scoring inside the arc, the Minutewomen did have a successful day from beyond the arc. They finished the game shooting 50 percent on shots from deep, Breen leading the way with her three. Both Destiney Philoxy and Taylor added two 3-pointers of their own, with Stefanie Kulesza making her one attempt off the bench.

It seemed as though its shooting cooled off as the game dragged on, with UMass shooting 2-for-8 from 3-point land in the final 20 minutes. Saint Louis hit one more three than the Minutewomen, finishing with 10 made compared to UMass’ nine.

“[Saint Louis] averages five made 3-pointers a game, they shoot 26 percent from [behind the arc],” Verdi said. “But when you give them wide open 3-pointers, we know that [they] can knock down 3’s. Our activity on the ball was not where we needed it to be [Wednesday].”

With Rhode Island’s subsequent loss against Fordham, the Minutewomen remain in a virtual tie for first place in the A-10. They continue to control their own destiny, as a win in their next contest along with a win by URI would end the A-10 regular season with co-champions before a cacophony of other results would determine who would be the No. 1 seed in the A-10 tournament.

That next contest for UMass is on Saturday, Feb. 25, against George Washington. It is senior day, with celebrations planned for both Breen and Philoxy. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“We’re fortunate,” Verdi said. “We have a great opportunity in front of us to make something special happen on Saturday. A different basketball team needs to show up on Saturday from what we saw here [Wednesday]. I liked our fight down the stretch, but we’re going to watch film, we’re going to learn from it and we get another opportunity to play.”

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

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *