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 snaps 15-game losing streak

Kristin Williams guides the Minutewomen to 58-45 victory
Gabbie Granoff
Daily Collegian (2024)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team wrapped up its regular season era on Taylor Swift night with a 58-45 win against Saint Bonaventure, snapping a grueling 15-game losing streak. Kristin Williams paved the way with a career-high 21 points.

After UMass (4-26, 2-16 Atlantic 10) cruised through the first half, the Bonnies (4-24, 1-16 A-10) showed some fight and even outscored the Minutewomen in the third quarter. A second half comeback wasn’t anything new for UMass, as its lost late leads in the past. Williams single handedly kept the energy and scoring going, hitting three straight 3-pointers in four possessions, securing a lead into the fourth that the Minutewomen held onto.

“I thought that group in the third quarter, kind of midway through the third quarter, you know, with [Williams] knocking down a couple shots and us pushing the pace really changed the energy for us and the building,” head coach Mike Leflar said.

Elsewhere for UMass, Chinenye Odenigbo had a career night filling the stat sheet with eight points, five rebounds, three assists and a career high four blocks, taking advantage of an undersized and understaffed St. Bonaventure team.

“Since [Odenigbo’s] been in the starting lineup, [she’s] just been getting more and more comfortable, more and more confident, especially the last two days of practice … We were trying to get her a lot of touches and that was certainly a game plan for us to get the ball inside to the post,” Leflar remarked.

In the fourth quarter, the Minutewomen went on a 15-2 run with all players on the floor getting involved . The Bonnies cut the lead to two prior to the run. Defensively, UMass held St. Bonaventure to just 26.9 percent shooting from the field and forced 15 turnovers.

“We did a great job against [George Washington] just keeping the ball in front of us. I just wanted to carry that over [to Wednesday]. St. Bonaventure has a lot of movement, especially on the weak side and if you get beat off the dribble, that allows the ball handlers to find a lot of shooters. So, we did a good job keeping them all in front of us,” Leflar said.

In terms of what’s next for the Minutewomen, their attention is now on the Atlantic 10 tournament down in Richmond, Va. With their win Wednesday, they secured the 14 seed in the tournament, avoiding an 11 a.m. game on March 6.

“I mean, the last two games, [George Washington] and [St. Bonaventure] obviously with where the three of our teams are in the standings, you know, they were like Super Bowls for me,” Leflar said.

UMass does not play any games on March 2 while every other team in the conference will play before traveling to Richmond, providing the Minutewomen with an opportunity to sort out kinks in practice.

“I think [extra practices] will be useful,” Leflar said, “We’ll obviously get after it … practice, to me, is fun … I think it’ll be our 74th practice. A majority of practices I walk out of the gym feeling good and feeling like people are getting better individually. I feel like we’re improving. To be able to kind of balance some practice and some off days leading into the tournament, I think, you know, is a great thing. But I also think it’s also going to be a great thing because we’re coming off a win.”

Additionally, heading into the tournament, the team is taking a fresh start approach.

“The conference tournament is different. It’s zero. Just like [Saint Louis] went 5-12 I want to say [last year], and then won every single game when they came into the tournament. So, I think we [have got] to go in with a fresh mindset. Everyone is 0-0. The tournament is so much different,” Williams said.

Ultimately, who the Minutewomen play is entirely out of their hands. At this point in time, Dayton, the other team UMass beat in A-10 play, is the opponent for the first-round matchup slated for 5 p.m. on March 6. George Washington is also in the running to be UMass’ opponent boasting the same conference record as Dayton. Leflar isn’t worried about outside noise regarding its opponent.

“I don’t care who you’re playing or where you’re playing. The importance of each possession, the importance of each game, the importance of each practice. I mean, it’s not about who you’re playing, it’s about the fact that you’re wearing Massachusetts … You [got to] approach the game with respect and pride, and that’s what I want our program to stand for.”

With the opponent unknown, the Minutewomen will be playing at 5 p.m. in Richmond, Va. on March 6.

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

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