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 loses 11th straight

Fourth quarter explosion not enough for Minutewomen
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2024)

Six minutes into the Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s game against Fordham, it looked like the two teams were going to be in a defensive dog fight for the remaining 34 minutes, with the Minutewomen (3-22, 1-12 Atlantic 10) and Rams (9-15, 4-9 A-10) trading baskets until the first media timeout. As soon as the game came back from break with UMass leading by one, Fordham went on an unprecedented run for the next 2.5 quarters, outscoring the Minutewomen 47-to-17 in 24-odd minutes of action. UMass cratered in the second quarter when it scored six points to the Rams 20, the most they scored in a quarter.

But like all runs, Fordham’s eventually came to an end. Heading into the fourth quarter up by 29, the Rams took their foot off the gas and allowed the Minutewomen to claw their way back into the contest. UMass scored 24 points in the final frame, just two less points than it had in the 30 minutes preceding the offensive explosion. When the Fordham lead shrunk to 13, the starting five that had dominated the entirety of the game for the Rams returned to the floor, and as the clock bled zero, UMass walked away in defeat 64-50. Kristin Williams led the Minutewomen in scoring, finishing with 17 points, albeit on 6-for-20 shooting. She added three rebounds and an assist to her final line, with 13 of her 17 points coming in the final quarter.

Part of this extended run saw a stretch of 26 minutes and 36 seconds between made 3-pointers for UMass, with Stefanie Kulesza hitting its first 3-pointer of the game with 7:19 left in the first quarter. Alexsia Rose hit the next shot from beyond the arc for the Minutewomen with 43 seconds left in the third quarter. This elongated drought saw 14 consecutive misses from 3-point land. Rose’s late third quarter make broke the seal somewhat, as UMass shot 50 percent from 3-point territory for the rest of the contest.

“From the start, we didn’t show up to play. I thought how we practiced [Friday] is exactly how we played, to be honest with you. I was proud of the five on the floor there at the end who gave some effort there in the fourth quarter,” head coach Mike Leflar said. “Definitely concerning, concerning that we came in here and really just gave the game away from the start.”

UMass forced Fordham into committing 25 turnovers during the contest, though, it only benefited marginally from that success. Despite committing 15 turnovers, 10 less than Fordham, the Minutewomen scored 11 points off turnovers to the Rams 18. This stat is indicative of how the game went for UMass, as even when its opponent made mistakes, it couldn’t capitalize off them.

One player who did make the most of her time on the court was Kulesza. She tied her career high for steals in a game with eight, which is also third all-time for single game steals in Minutewomen history. In addition to her eight steals, she had nine points, a block and three rebounds.

“I saw [from Kulesza] what I see every day … really consistent effort,” Leflar said. “When you’re the most consistent person, typically you rise to the top, and that’s why she’s one of our best players, if not the best player, just because it’s really consistent when I walk through the door every day, I know exactly what I’m getting … that reliability piece, that dependability piece, that matters, and that’s who she’s been.”

Fordham was led by the double headed monster of Taylor Donaldson and Emy Hayford. Donaldson, the current leader in points per game in the A-10, finished with 15 points in addition to 10 rebounds and an assist, but it was Hayford who led the team in scoring, dropping 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. The Rams as a whole had a good shooting night on Saturday, finishing at 49 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point territory. All but one player who saw the floor for Fordham committed a turnover.

UMass is next in action on Wednesday, Feb. 14, taking on URI from the Mullins Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game can be viewed on NESN+.

“Outscoring them [in the fourth quarter] 24-9 … great, and I guess the final score doesn’t look as bad, but I feel what that game felt like,” Leflar said. “And I’ll feel it for a long time.”

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101.

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