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

“She’s just fearless,” Ber’Nyah Mayo nets game-winner, drops career-high 29 points in UMass’ win over Fordham

Mayo scores 18 points in the second half to lift the Minutewomen to 80-79 victory
Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

Ber’Nyah Mayo didn’t just break her career-high on Wednesday; she shattered it.

Mayo exploded for a career-high 29 points in the Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s 80-79 win against the hapless Fordham Rams (16-9, 8-4 Atlantic 10), beating her previous tally of 21 points. She also recorded four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“She’s just fearless,” head coach Tory Verdi said of Mayo. “When I was out watching her in AAU she did the same things. She’d score and get and ones, and she was so competitive and feisty. Her energy was infectious, and I was like, ‘Man, that kid has that ‘it’ factor.’”

With the game on the line, Verdi instilled his trust in Mayo to deliver the go-ahead basket. One-on-one with Asiah Dingle at the UMass logo, Mayo pushed the ball downhill to the cup. With a full head of steam, Mayo spun off Dingle, who fell to the ground and banked home the layup with eleven seconds on the clock.

UMass (20-4, 10-1 A-10) clamped up on the defensive end and were hailed victorious when the buzzer sounded. When asked about the designed play for Mayo’s game-winner, Verdi had an insightful response.

“We had multiple options,” Verdi said. “We used Sam [Breen] as a decoy and they were chasing [Sydney Taylor] over screen all night long. So, we curled over the top, they chased and [the shot] wasn’t there. Early on [in the game] we got it and went for a high look.”

“The second part of [the play] is for [Mayo] to bounce back out, get it and go one-on-one and drive and attack. You want to make sure that you have multiple entries, and that play, I guess it worked. I guess you could say the back end of the play worked for us in our favor, so I guess that’s good coaching,” Verdi said with a mischievous grin.

The buzzer beater was not the first of Mayo’s career, as the junior guard banked home a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining to beat Richmond last season. As a matter of fact, it was not even Mayo’s first buzzer beater of the game.

Almost as if to foreshadow the game’s finale, Mayo beat the buzzer and connected on a 15-foot turnaround jump shot to end the first quarter.

At the halfway point, Mayo had just eleven points. With the Minutewomen trailing by two  Mayo undoubtedly took over in the third period and put her stamp on the game.

Mayo flexed her scoring ability by scoring UMass’ first nine points of the quarter, then flashed her skills as a distributor when she connected with Breen on an entry pass for two points. Later in the quarter, Mayo found her way to the charity stripe and connected on both shots before capping off the phenomenal period with yet another last-second shot on an old-fashioned three-point play.

Her offensive performance was truly astounding, but Mayo’s defensive prowess is what won the game for the Minutewomen. Given the impossible task of guarding Fordham’s elite scorer in Dingle, Mayo’s performance on both sides of the ball is representative of the type of player she has blossomed into.

Dingle scored 21 points at the half but was held to just nine through the remainder of the game.

“I love Dingle,” Mayo said. “Just coming into the game and obviously knowing what type of player she is, just a person who’s going to make you compete, make you work hard. Obviously that’s always fun and just understanding we came out with the win.”

Mayo and the Minutewomen will hit the road to take on George Mason on Sunday at 3 p.m.

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

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