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

Turnovers hurt the Minutewomen’s offensive rhythm

UMass gives up 15 turnovers
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team could not connect on Sunday afternoon, finishing with 15 turnovers. The Minutewomen (1-2) fell to the Maine Black Bears, 69-48.  

Turnovers have become a pattern that plagues UMass’ offense. In each of their three contests this season, the Minutewomen have turned the ball over 15 or more times, giving away their  opportunities to score.   

“I think Maine sped us up a little bit. They denied and they were very active, but no more active than Northeastern was,” head coach Mike Leflar said.  

From these turnovers, Maine (2-1) got a significant amount of extra possessions that UMass could’ve used to chip away at the Black Bears lead. Maine scored 21 points off these turnovers, the exact point differential in the final score of the game.  

The Minutewomen couldn’t recover these lost possessions by forcing turnovers from Maine. Although Maine finished with 14 turnovers, just one less than UMass, the Minutewomen could not capitalize on the Black Bear’s mistakes, scoring 11 points off Maine’s turnovers.  

“Just making better decisions with the basketball,” Leflar said on those opportunities. “I remember some three-on-twos that I thought we should’ve got some transition lay-ups or 3’s and they come up empty.” 

Maine came out to play with a defensive intensity that UMass could not keep up with, holding the Minutewomen to just 22 points in the first half. This pressure in the first half forced 11 UMass turnovers, something the Minutewomen could not come back from. UMass found an offensive opening in the third quarter going on an 8-0 run in the opening minutes that ultimately was not sustained into the fourth quarter.  

“We don’t have the experience to slow us down, to kind of take control and that really showed [Sunday],” Leflar said. 

With only eight players in rotation, two of them freshman, UMass likely faced fatigue in the later minutes of the contest. Even in the fourth quarter as the Black Bears grew their lead, the Minutewomen did not have the option to substitute. Maine had the advantage of a deep bench, utilizing 13 members of its team, in order to always have fresh legs in the game, even towards the end.  

One of UMass’ most experienced players on the team, Stefanie Kulesza, committed four fouls, two of them offensive. Kulesza, the leading scorer for the Minutewomen, also added two more turnovers in the game for a team high of four. These four turnovers from Kulesza broke up UMass’ offensive rhythm and tacked on a considerable amount to the overall turnover total. 

“It’s not the fourth, it’s the first [quarter] that hurts us … obviously she’s one of our players with some experience and can score the basketball,” Leflar said.  

The contest against Maine showed improvement in UMass’ turnover numbers, finishing its past two games against Saint Peter’s and Northeastern with 20 and 17 turnovers, respectively. Yet, the decrease in turnovers was not enough for the Minutewomen to win on Sunday afternoon.  

UMass travels back home to the Mullins Center to play the Harvard Crimson, facing the team that ended its season last year in the WNIT. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16 and will be streamed on ESPN+.  

Rachel Toth can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RachelToth46. 

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