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 collapses against La Salle 63-61

Losing streak extends to eight games
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2024)

In front of hundreds of screaming middle and elementary school students on Field Trip Day, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team lost its eighth straight game, 63-61 to the La Salle Explorers.

Down four with 18 seconds left, UMass (3-19, 1-9 Atlantic 10) turned to its sharpshooter Kristin Williams who hit a vital 3-pointer to cut the lead to just one. In all the craziness of the inbound, La Salle (7-13, 4-5 A-10) found itself wide open under the hoop for a free layup to take a three-point lead. Once again, Williams hit a crucial 3-pointer to tie it. The Minutewomen then fouled the Explorers on the inbound, sending them to the line where they secured the two-point lead needed to walk out of Amherst with a win.

“More than any other game this year, that one really stung,” head coach Mike Leflar said. “[We] had a big lead, and I thought we came out with a lot of great energy and we got off to a great start, and that’s all you could ask for.”

Before the Explorers staged a late game comeback, UMass had itself quite the first half leading by as much as 15 points. In the second quarter, the Minutewomen went on a 13-2 run as La Salle entered the break shooting 25 percent from the field and 19 percent from behind the 3-point line.

The third and fourth quarters were an entirely different story. Scoring was limited in the third but La Salle outscored UMass for the first time in the game. Then, in the fourth, the Explorers outscored the Minutewomen 25-14.

“They made a couple shots,” Leflar remarked about the comeback. “The one thing that stood out to me is [La Salle] had 12 offensive rebounds in the second half and again, like in those moments, I thought we gave up on some plays and there was some times where we did such a great job helping and cutting off the drive, and they would kick and make the extra pass and we just stood. We have to change our mentality a little bit and understand what it takes to win.”

The story of this game cannot leave out the foul by Stefanie Kulesza with three seconds left. On the inbound, La Salle mishandled the ball and it seemed to go out of bounds. However, a foul was called, Kulesza’s fifth, leading to the free throws that were the knockout punch.

“It was a really tough call, I felt for [Kulesza] because she works so hard each game … I mean, we were up by 15 points, so it didn’t just come down to that call, but I thought it was a tough call. I thought it was just players being aggressive late in the game … honestly, foul trouble has been the Achilles heel of ours each game.” Leflar said.

Leading the way for UMass was Alexsia Rose and Williams who had 18 and 15 points respectively.

“Since [Rose has] been back and since the start of conference play, I mean, she really could be a valuable piece for us just in terms of her scoring ability and ball handling ability. I think it also helps someone like [Willimas] out getting her more off the ball … I give our guards a lot of responsibility and freedom,” Leflar said.

Leading the way for La Salle was Jolene Armendariz with 16 points. The Explorers had three players in double digits and two others with nine points.

UMass turns its attention to Saint Joseph’s on Saturday, Feb. 3 with tip-off set for 2 p.m in Philadelphia. The Minutewomen have lost 10 of their last 11.

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

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