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 14th consecutive game

Minutewomen turn the ball over 19 times
Dylan Nguyễn
Daily Collegian (2024)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team lost its 14th consecutive game on Wednesday, falling to Loyola Chicago 64-52. Neither team was stellar from the floor, but it was the Ramblers (13-14, 7-9 Atlantic 10) who won the war of attrition off the back of 19 turnovers from the Minutewomen (3-25, 1-15 A-10).

UMass struggled in multiple areas that have bit it all season, with foul trouble catching up to the Minutewomen just as much as turnovers, as well as its inability to prevent offensive rebounds. Chinenye Odenigbo fouled out early in the fourth quarter while Stefanie Kulesza was on the precipice of fouling out herself, finishing the game with four fouls. With an already depleted rotation due to the injuries of Bre Bellamy and Alexsia Rose, UMass can’t afford any of its members getting into foul trouble early.

Loyola Chicago scored 18 points off the 19 Minutewomen turnovers and grabbed double the amount of offensive rebounds, 14-7. As was the story of the game, UMass couldn’t convert those second chances into points, scoring just two points in the seven possessions following an offensive rebound, while Loyola Chicago racked up 11 second chance points. The Ramblers also turned the ball over 14 times, but the Minutewomen turned those missteps into just eight points.

“It was hard for me to believe, looking up at the … final score, that we lost by less than we did at home [against Loyola Chicago],” head coach Mike Leflar said. “Felt like a lot more [Wednesday] … we gave them the lead early, and they just sped us up … it wasn’t very good basketball … we got stops early, but you know [Loyola Chicago] had nine offensive rebounds at the half.”

Once again it was Stefanie Kulesza who ended as UMass’ leading scorer, dropping 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, going 4-of-4 from deep. Of players who played 20 minutes or more for the Minutewomen, Kulesza was the only one to shoot above 40 percent from the field. Both her and Lilly Taulelei shot 100 percent from beyond the arc, though Taulelei took just one 3-pointer.

Taulelei herself was the teams third leading scorer, dropping 10 points in addition to four assists, a rebound and a block. Kristin Williams sat just in front of Taulelei with 11 points. She also had four assists and two rebounds.

“We try to get [Kulesza] shots, we try and post her up a little bit, and I think there are games where we need to get her more shots … she’s certainly willing and able to knock down open [3-pointers], and we get her in the post and we run some stuff for her, but getting her more shots and trying to get her in better positions is something we need to work on to finish out the season,” Leflar said. “[Williams] going 40 minutes was positive, I thought she played under control. She did some things that I asked her to do this game that I was hoping to see …”

For the Ramblers, it was the Sitori Tanin show on Wednesday evening, as she dropped 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Right behind her was Ali Berg, who hit nothing but 3-pointers all night. Berg took 12 total shots in Wednesday’s affair, 11 of which were from distance. Hitting five of those and a made free throw gave her 16 points. Coming into the game, Berg averaged just over six points per game, a number she eclipsed in the second quarter.

UMass is next in action in its penultimate game of the season on Feb. 24, taking on George Washington in D.C. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. and the game can be watched on ESPN+.

“There were times where we just weren’t sharp enough. There were open extra passes, and we weren’t making the right passes, we weren’t able to make the right decisions,” Leflar said. “Again, I think we’re in a spot where we’re losing games and I just still think there needs to be a big time willingness to do whatever it takes, each possession. I felt that a little bit [Wednesday] with our players … we have to not fall into the mindset of ‘here we go again,’ not fall into the mindset of letting one game or multiple possessions affect the next possession.”

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

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