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

George Mason defeats UMass women’s basketball 73-52

Minutewomen can’t capitalize on strong first quarter
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team lost its fifth straight game, as well as its seventh out of the last eight on Sunday night, losing to George Mason 73-52. The Minutewomen (3-16, 1-6 Atlantic 10) could not maintain their momentum after a strong first quarter.

The first quarter ended with a 21-18 advantage for UMass over the Patriots (14-3, 5-1 A-10). Krisitin Williams came out guns blazing with two 3-pointers, leading a balanced attack as Bre Bellamy and Lilly Ferguson added four points each. The lead would not last as Geroge Mason would outscore the Minutewomen 22-8 in the second quarter taking a commanding lead into the break, which it held until the finish line as it limited UMass’ scoring opportunities.

For the Patriots, Sonia Smith, the sixth leading scorer in the conference, led the charge with 15 points. The Patriots had two other players in double digits with Zahirah Walton and Taylor Jameson contributing 14 and 10 points respectively.

“I thought our team struggled [Sunday] just to kind of get going. I felt like once we got going and got the ball in [Smith’s] hands, she was able to keep our team afloat,” George Mason head coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said.

For UMass, Williams led the charge throughout the game, much like the first quarter, finishing with a career high 20 points.

“[Williams] shows flashes of being a really great shooter, a really good scorer and someone we need to rely on this year. So I was really happy for her [Sunday],” UMass head coach Mike Leflar said.

UMass was at a disadvantage playing without key freshman center Lilly Taulelei who is nursing a wrist injury. Without her, leading scorer Stefanie Kulesza had to take on the role of playing in the post. That’s a role that Kulesza is familiar with but limits her potential. She finished with just two points, a season low. Taulelei is day-to-day and even participated in shootaround Sunday morning, according to Leflar.

“[Kulesza] has been our most consistent player, game in and game out, and practice in and practice out this year. I know she had a tough one stat wise, but I still thought she did all she could out there,” Leflar said.

George Mason’s game plan was centered around stopping Kulesza. “Definitely [we were] focused on [stopping Kulesza], but I think that the whole team can be formidable. [UMass] has [its] ways of scoring, but definitely wanted to make sure that we control the players that are really good [and] that can take over the game … I just thought that we did a good job on her,” Blair-Lewis remarked.

All in all, Leflar was pleased with the team’s performance. “I thought we played with more effort than we had in the last two games,” Leflar said. “That was my message to our team after our Loyola [Chicago] game.”

UMass now looks to shift its season against the Davidson Wildcats, with tip off set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24 in North Carolina. The game is available to watch on ESPN+.

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

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