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

UMass extends win streak to seven with victory over Richmond

Minutewomen outscore Spiders by 10 in second half
Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

With 7:35 left in the fourth quarter, the shot clock winding down and the Massachusetts women’s basketball team up by three, Destiney Philoxy stood with the ball on the wing. It was a situation eerily similar to the Minutewomen’s (18-4, 8-1 Atlantic 10) opening play of the game where Philoxy drilled a heavily contested 3-pointer to get the scoring started.

As the shot clock reached the five second mark, Philoxy threw up another well-contested jumper from beyond the arc, finding nothing but the bottom of the net to put UMass up by six. As Richmond called a timeout, Philoxy and Sam Breen chest-bumped underneath the opponents basket. The Spiders (13-8, 3-5 A-10) would never truly threaten again, coming within three points multiple times but never capitalizing on it, as the Minutewomen would win 73-69 after trailing most of the game.

“Extremely proud of our effort [Wednesday],” head coach Tory Verdi said. “I challenged our players at halftime, and they responded. We made some adjustments defensively, we came out and we went on a run. It was one of those games where we had to grind it away.”

Of the players that Verdi and his staff challenged during the break, arguably no player responded better than Makennah White. After shooting 0-for-3 in the first half, she made her mark in the latter 20 minutes, shooting a scorching 66.7 percent from the floor, scoring 13 points in the process. White also notched a double-double, grabbing seven of her eventual 10 rebounds in the second half.

After Philoxy hit her fourth quarter 3-ball, White quelled what could have been the makings of a Richmond comeback. Getting the ball in the low-post, she was double-teamed almost immediately, but went up strong and fought through contact to make the layup and had the potential for an and-one. She hit her only free throw of the night to extend the Minutewomen lead back to six.

“She brings energy, I’m sure that you can hear her talking defensively,” Verdi said of White. “She has a very high basketball IQ. Especially [Wednesday], her ability to talk and see plays happen before they actually happen helps us out. We were in timeouts, and her positivity was unbelievable.”

“[White] just brings a different vocal energy, whether it’s defensive or offensive. [Verdi] probably highlighted that in timeouts she’s always talking,” Breen said.

Breen had a great game in her own right, leading the team with a quiet 21 points in addition to nine rebounds and five assists. She was 2-of-4 on 3-point attempts on a day where the Minutewomen shot 38.9 percent from 3-point territory. Sydney Taylor led the team with three makes from beyond the arc, scoring 11 points on the night.

As it has all season, UMass dominated in both rebounds and points in the paint. UMass scored 34 points in the paint and it out-rebounded the Spiders 45-29. The even bigger disparity came in the offensive rebound totals, as the Minutewomen grabbed 19 to Richmond’s three, leading to a 12 point gap between the two teams in second chance points, with the Spiders garnering two points off put-backs to UMass’ 14. One area where the Minutewomen lagged behind their competition was in total assists, dishing out 18 dimes compared to 21 from the opposition.

“The most important thing to take away is that every night is not going to be as pretty as our last two games,” Verdi said. Everything went our way against Duquesne, everything went our way against VCU, but teams come in and they prep for you. We’re going to get their best and we got their best, yet we still found a way to win.”

Wednesday’s game was a sloppy and physical one, represented in both the shooting percentages from both squads and the 16 personal fouls that each team racked up. Both teams got to the line over 10 times, with the Spiders going 12-of-14 from the charity stripe to the Minutewomen’s 14 made free throws in 18 attempts. This number is a bit inflated as the end of the game turned into a foul fest with Richmond clinging on to the hope of a UMass blunder at the line.

After seeming as though they had put their slow starts behind them, the Minutewomen stumbled out of the gates, shooting 37.5 percent from the field and allowing the Spiders to score 23 points. They wouldn’t allow over 17 points from the opposition in a single quarter for the remainder of the game.

“I feel like we’ve had pretty good starts lately, and [Wednesday], not that we didn’t have a good start offensively, but [Richmond] was hitting shots too,” Breen said. “We didn’t let that bring us down.”

UMass is next in action on Saturday, Feb. 4, taking on La Salle in Philadelphia. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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

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