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 women’s basketball defeats Saint Peter’s in season opener 56-44

Mike Leflar earns first win as head coach
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team defeated Saint Peter’s 56-44 Monday night in its season opener. The win was Mike Leflar’s first as a head coach.

Leading the way for the Minutewomen (1-0) was Stefanie Kulesza with her first career double-double posting 15 points and 14 rebounds, four of which were offensive. Aiding the win was junior Kristin Williams who came off the bench and led all scorers with 19.

“Win as a team, lose as a team,” Williams said. “I think I did step up into a bigger role this year as an upperclassman and just as a player. I think [Leflar] helped me with that in the [off-season].”

Kulesza, Williams and Lilly Ferguson are the only returning players from last season’s Atlantic 10 regular season championship team. The trio combined for 40 of the teams 56 points as well as 20 of the 43 rebounds.

“I think that [Leflar] relied on us, when he brought in these recruits, just to build a culture that we all wanted to be around and just include everybody with everything and I think we’re just building off of that and this win definitely will help build us,” Williams said. “It’s great to win the first game of the season and I know we’ll face some adversity during the season but it’s what we do and that’s the culture. I think that’s what it’s gonna be about.”

The Peacocks (0-1) started off slow shooting 3-18 from the field in the first quarter. After UMass’ first bucket a minute into the game, St Peter’s never tied or led. Its losing streak now sits at 32 dating back to a conference tournament loss two seasons ago. Leading the way for the Peacocks was Jada Williams. She had 13 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes of play. Fatmata Janneh had nine points and six rebounds in 19 minutes of play before fouling out.

The Minutewomen struggled against a lackluster St. Peter’s team, shooting just 20 percent from the field in the second quarter and 33 percent for the game, still outpacing the Peacock’s who shot 23.2 percent. A positive note was UMass’ effort diving for loose balls and bringing energy even when shots weren’t falling.

“We’re going to make or miss shots. That’s not going to define us. What defines us is how competitive we’re being, how vocal we’re being and how together we’re being,” Leflar said

Graduate Transfer and recently named captain Bre Bellamy had five points, four assists and eight rebounds showing flashes of a big role this season.

“[Bellamy] brings a lot of experience, so we definitely are going to be relying on her a lot on the court,” Leflar said.

“I’ve been really impressed, honestly, with the way we’ve practiced the last two weeks. I just asked our team to … do what we do at practice every single day. I think there were times we got away from that [Monday], and there were times that we did do it,” Leflar said.

The Minutewomen now turn their attention to Northeastern. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m on Thursday Nov. 9 at the Cabot Physical Education center.

Owen Shelffo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @owen_shelffo

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