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 falls to Ramblers at home, 79-66

Minutewomen lose third quarter by 14 points
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team continued its conference losing streak with a 79-66 loss at home to Loyola Chicago. The third quarter marked a five minute and 23 second scoring drought for UMass (3-15, 1-5 Atlantic 10), which eventually led to its demise.

“I think the issue the whole game was just handing them the basketball and that led to … them playing faster than us,” head coach Mike Leflar said.

UMass began the first half strong, finding scoring opportunities with ease. This performance was not reflected in the second half of the game as the Minutewomen lost confidence quickly.

“In the first four games of conference play, I talked a lot about basketball and adjustments mid game … I think as a coach, I’m still trying to find ways to get through to this group in terms of what it takes to win,” Leflar said.

Four out of the five starters for UMass finished in double digits, with Bre Bellamy only contributing four points. Freshman Lilly Taulelei played 28 minutes and added 10 points. Kristin Williams shot well from 3 and finished with 15 points. With seven assists Alexsia Rose created plays for her teammates and contributed 10 points as well.

The four Minutewomen bench players that saw the floor Wednesday night were each given a substantial amount of minutes, but could not find the bottom of the hoop. At the end of the night, the bench finished with 10 total points, but did not score their first points until the end of the third quarter.

“They certainly had a lot of opportunity … if you respect the game enough and you respect the process enough and you respect me enough and the jersey, then you show up and you’re ready to push,” Leflar said.

Stefanie Kulesza, the longest tenured player on the team, finished with 17 points and a notable eight steals. These steals made up for lost opportunities after the team turned the ball over 26 times Wednesday night. Kulesza added six rebounds and three assists as well.

“If I’m in the position and I’m in the right spot, then I’ll get the steal. But that’s not what I was focused on [Wednesday],” Kulesza said.

Although UMass started the game quickly, the Ramblers (9-8, 3-3 A-10) kept up with outside shots. In the first half they shot 6-for-11, over 50 percent from behind the arc. As UMass continued to score the majority of its points in the paint, Loyola Chicago answered back with 3-pointers. The Ramblers finished the night shooting 57.1 percent from 3, spreading each made shot through the roster.

The Minutewomen had plenty of scoring opportunities throughout the game, but could not finish on simple shots. On layups alone, they finished 17-for-33.

Fouls proved a problem for UMass, particularly in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, when it tallied three fouls. Two players for the Minutewomen, Bellamy and Chinenye Odenigbo, heard the whistle frequently and fouled out in the third and fourth quarter respectively.

The Ramblers turned UMass turnovers into scoring opportunities and finished with 23 fast break points. The Minutewomen could not match the Rambler’s speed and only had nine fast break points.

UMass faces its next A-10 opponent, George Mason, on Sunday Jan. 21. The Patriots are ranked No. 4 in the A-10, with only one conference loss to Rhode Island. The Minutewomen tip-off in the Mullins Center at 4 p.m.

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

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