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 falls to Harvard 78-57

Minutewomen fail to avenge WNIT loss from last year
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team fell to Harvard on Thursday night, 78-57. The Minutewomen (1-3) failed to complete a comeback after going down 28-8 at the end of the first quarter.

In the third quarter, the Minutewomen found themselves down 15 in need of a charge. With the crowd backing them, that charge started with Tori Hyduke sinking two free throws followed by a Kristin Williams and-one layup on a fast break with the free throw cutting the lead to 10. Jermany Mapp cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the four minute mark in the first with a layup of her own. Harvard (3-1) immediately followed with a 3-pointer, silencing the crowd and cutting off the momentum and bringing a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter.

“We had an opportunity to get off to a better start and didn’t,” head coach Mike Leflar said. “As we settled in and took care of the basketball and ran through offenses and stayed in offense, I think the tide started to turn for us.”

The Crimson came out firing on all cylinders, putting up 28 points in the first quarter, their most in any quarter this season. UMass shot just 20 percent from the field going 3-of-15 in the first quarter.

“Our first couple possessions, we had some turnovers, some deflected passes. We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be and we have to start the game off sharp,” Leflar said.

The Minutewomen gave one final push at the start of the fourth that didn’t amount to anything as after the final media timeout, the Crimson outscored UMass 15-2 while the Minutewomen shot just 1-of-9, securing the win for Harvard.

“We have a group of 13 competitive young women and competitive coaching staff. So the loss still stings and it’s going to motivate us for the next time that we step out on the floor. The team that was on the floor tonight competing, sticking together, playing together, being resilient down 28-8 at the end of the first quarter, that’s a team that I’m excited to coach,” Leflar said.

Paving the way for the Crimson was Lola Mullaney, shooting 7-of-13 from beyond the arc en route to her 23 points. Mullaney also had 22 points in last year’s WNIT win over UMass which ended its season. Harmoni Turner, Harvard’s leading scorer heading into the contest added 22 points herself.

“[Mullaney] is a confident shooter. She’s not afraid. She took 13 (3’s). I think when she gets easy ones in transition, when we’re not there to rotate, when she gets 3’s in their offense, that stings because it’s things we talk about with our team.” Coach Leflar said.

Leading the way for the Minutewomen was Kristin Williams, who had 16 points with two 3’s in her first career start. Stefanie Kulesza posted her second double-double of the year with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“Limiting turnovers and, like [Leflar] said a lot in the past two days, staying in the offense. I think if we continue [to do that] and make everybody work on their defense, we’ll be in a great place. I think that’s what we saw [Thursday], in the second and third quarter especially, and some of the fourth,” Williams said.

UMass now starts a four game road stand as its attention shifts to Monmouth University. The bout is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 19 in New Jersey. Tip off is slated for 2 p.m.

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

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