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 defeats No. 5 Richmond, advances to A-10 Championship

Minutewomen outrebound Spiders by 10, allow only two offensive rebounds
Chris Tucci / UMass Athletics

WILMINGTON, Del. – For the third time in three years, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team will compete in the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship.

No. 1 UMass (26-5, 14-2 Atlantic 10) grabbed an 80-60 victory over No. 5 Richmond on Saturday. The Minutewomen ran the table as the No. 3 seed last season and will look to defend their title and become back-to-back conference champions.

After Friday’s rebounding woes and slow start against George Mason made the going difficult for the maroon-and-white, UMass learned from its mistake and punched the Spiders (20-10, 8-6 A-10) in the mouth early.

The Minutewomen started the game on a 9-0 run because of their work on the glass. Angelique Ngalakulondi fueled the scoring streak by snatching an offensive rebound and kicking out to Destiney Philoxy who pushed the ball downhill and banked home the layup with her left hand.

The run continued when Sam Breen and Ber’Nyah Mayo both grabbed offensive boards in the same possession which led to another score for Philoxy. Philoxy scored a team-high 16-points in the win.

“It’s something we pride ourselves on everyday in practice,” Makennah White said. “We’re going to have to crash the boards hard and that’s how you win games.”

“It’s a big focus for us offensively and defensively,” Breen said of rebounding the basketball. “We only gave up two offensive rebounds [Saturday]. That’s probably the lowest we’ve given up… everyone is crashing the boards, too. Four of us on offense and then the one safety back to make sure we get as many second chance points as we can.”

UMass outrebounded Richmond 35-25 in the game and had 14 second chance points to the Spiders’ four. Breen finished with a 14-point, 12 rebound double-double. White had seven rebounds and 14 points off the bench.

With its backs against the wall, Richmond responded accordingly, ripping off a 10-0 run in the second quarter. Addie Budnik wreaked havoc down low as she scored seven of her 25 points in the frame and the Spiders outscored the Minutewomen 21-15.

With the intensity at an all-time high and the building rocking, White and Ngalakulondi served as the team’s spark plugs. The two post players played an instrumental role in the second half as Richmond’s tendency to hedge screens allowed for mismatches in the paint.

In the third quarter, White set a screen to switch defenders with Sydney Taylor, who then moved the ball around the perimeter to Breen in the corner. Breen faked the shot, put the ball on the hardwood and drove down the baseline before leaping and delivering a two-handed pass to White underneath the hoop for two.

Breen spoke on the importance of White’s contributions, especially coming off the bench.

“[White’s] super important,” Breen said. “I texted her about that actually the other day, she was my sixth man of the year in the A-10. She’s been doing it all season and she’s really consistent in that way. Even though she gets frustrated when she might not be scoring as much, I think she doesn’t realize how many other ways she’s been contributing. Not only rebounding, but energy and everything.”

With a minute remaining in the game, White nailed a fadeaway hook shot that prompted the Spiders to wave the white flag and clear the bench after calling a timeout. White flashed a smile to head coach Tory Verdi, who winked at her as the UMass lead extended to 19.

“It was a confidence thing,” White said of the shot. “[Verdi] gives us confidence each and every day and my confidence is at an all-time high. He told me that [Richmond] can’t guard me. When you hear that from your teammates but also your coaching staff that gives you the confidence to go like, ‘Hey, you can’t guard me so of course I’m going to the basket.’”

The Minutewomen assisted 18 of their 29 makes in the game. This correlated with the team’s desire to get the ball into the paint and score down low, as UMass scored 36 points in the paint.

UMass will play the winner of No. 2 Rhode Island and No. 3 Saint Louis in the championship game on Sunday at noon.

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

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 *