UMass defeats La Salle despite losing the turnover battle

The Minutewomen committed 23 turnovers


Dylan Nguyễn/Daily Collegian

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team earned a 66-42 road victory in Saturday’s matinee matchup against La Salle.

The win moves UMass to 19-4 overall and 9-1 in the Atlantic 10, the second best in the conference behind Rhode Island. The Minutewomen also lay claim to the highest scoring offense in the A10, as they average 75.3 points per game.

However, UMass has been plagued by turnovers this season. The silent problem has not resulted in losses, but it’s a bad habit that could spell trouble for the team down the road.

Turnovers were the tip of the iceberg against the Explorers (14-10, 5-4 A-10), as the Minutewomen scored nine points while committing nine takeaways in the first quarter.

With the offense sputtering and shots not falling, turnovers added insult to injury. UMass had 14 turnovers in the first half and 23 by the end of the game. La Salle committed 18.

“I think a combination of both,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said when asked if the turnovers were because of La Salle’s defense or self-inflicted. “I think [La Salle] did a really good job of overplaying the passing lanes. For whatever reasons we thought we could reverse the ball and not look. [La Salle] was there and shot the gap and got deflections and steals, so we have got to do a better job of that.”

During the Minutewomen’s four-game postseason run last season, the team averaged 10.8 turnovers per game. Through this point in the season, UMass is averaging 15.1.

The Minutewomen’s high-powered offense and stout defense have cushioned them when ball security hasn’t been the best.

“It’s always on my radar, it’s never off,” Verdi said about emphasizing ball security. “We want to make sure that we value the ball. You can’t be careless and our players understand that. I know that they’re not going out on the floor and trying to turn the ball over. Sometimes I think we force things a little bit too much, but I do think in the first period we were a little bit careless.”

UMass is constantly looking to pass and create for each other, currently tied for the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference with Fordham (1.2).

This is in large part because of the team’s unselfish guards, Destiny Philoxy and Ber’Nyah Mayo. Philoxy is second in the conference in total assists with 111 and fourth in assists per game, averaging 4.8. Meanwhile, Mayo is sixth in the conference total assists with 98 and sits at second in assist-to-turnover ratio with 2.5.

UMass hosts the Rams at the Mullins Center on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. showdown. Valuing the basketball will be a priority as Fordham aims to exact its revenge and climb up the standings.

The last time the two teams faced off, UMass lost 20 turnovers while the Rams lost 19. The Minutewomen bested Fordham in the game, winning 66-57.

“Going into Fordham, we know that every possession counts,” Verdi said. “It’s going to be difficult, they’re a good basketball team. We beat them the first time around, but we know that they’re going to be really excited to play us come Wednesday night.”

Michael Araujo can be reached at [email protected].