Rhode Island bullies UMass women’s basketball to end win streak

  • UMass junior Destiney Philoxy scored a season-high 20 points against Rhode Island at the Mullins Center on Tuesday. The Minutewomen lost 48-47. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • From left, UMass’ Madison Lowery, Sam Breen Maddie Sims listen on the bench during the Minutewomen’s game against Rhode Island at the Mullins Center on Tuesday. The Minutewomen lost 48-47. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/5/2021 9:37:53 PM

AMHERST — One scoring drought too many dried up the UMass women’s basketball team’s five-game winning streak.

The Minutewomen didn’t put up a point for the final 4 minutes, 41 seconds of a 48-47 loss to Rhode Island on Tuesday night in the Mullins Center.

Sam Breen made two free throws to put UMass (6-2, 2-1 Atlantic 10) up 47-39. Then the Rams closed the game on a 9-0 run.

“We beat ourselves. You’ve got to give Rhode Island a lot of credit, we didn’t match their physicality. ,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said. “They did enough at the end.”

Rhode Island’s Catherine Cairns made a jumper with 4:27 left to cut the deficit to 6. Marie-Paul Foppossi ended a nearly two-minute span without points with a layup that made it a one-possession game. She also missed two free throws with 1:49 left down one that could have given the Rams the lead.

Emmanuelle Tahane scored the game-winning layup with 1:11 left. UMass called a timeout. But Johanna Muzet stole the ball from Ber’Nyah Mayo with 57 seconds remaining. Foppossi missed a potential 3-point dagger with 30 seconds on the clock, but she grabbed the offensive rebound following her shot.

The Rams pulled the ball out and went for another finisher, but they initiated their offense too late and committed a shot clock violation.

The Minutewomen had the ball with 8.4 seconds remaining after another timeout. Mayo missed a runner as time expired, denying UMass a second buzzer-beater in as many games at the Mullins Center.

UMass went 0-5 with three turnovers during the last 4:41.

“Offensively we were very stagnant, we couldn’t score,” Verdi said. “When you face some offensive adversity, you’ve got to fight back, and we didn’t have that.”

Destiney Philoxy didn’t have a shot attempt in the final 7:51 despite leading the game with 20 points, a season high. She also scored 19 against the Rams when they met the first time around Dec. 8.

Philoxy finished with five rebounds, three assists and six turnovers. She shot 7-of-8 from the floor and made all four 3-pointers. After making that 3 with 7:51 remaining to put UMass ahead 45-38, she closed the game with three fouls, a turnover and a block.

“In the beginning they played me for the shot, they made sure I wasn’t driving, they were was over-helping. I realized that. In the second half they knew I was going to keep shooting because my confidence started getting bigger,” Philoxy said. “They made sure to close out on me then over-help when I drove, so I didn’t know how to go about that.”

The Minutewomen led by as many as 13, up 29-16, after Philoxy hit a layup 12 seconds into the fourth quarter. But they shot 7-of-20 in the second half, 2-of-10 in the fourth quarter. UMass only attempted six free throws after halftime and made four.

Compare that to Rhode Island’s 56 percent, including a blistering 9-of-12 third quarter. The Rams whittled their deficit to four at the end of the third but didn’t take the lead back until they grabbed it for good. They last led 16-15 after two Marta Vargas free throws with 4:02 to go in the first half.

UMass closed the half with a 12-0 run. The Minutewomen went 5-of-5, including a Maddie Sims layup to beat the buzzer. Philoxy had 11 points in the first half, while Breen, the newly minted A-10 Player of the Week, had seven in the first 20 minutes. She finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, her fourth consecutive double-double.

It was UMass’ lowest scoring output of the season. The Minutewomen scored more in the first halves against Bryant and New Hampshire this season. They shot 41.9 percent in the game but turned the ball over 20 times, a season high.

“You can’t have 20 turnovers, and our turnovers were bad,” Verdi said. “We did a lot of uncharacteristic things as if we’re never supposed to be a team that’s down in the basketball game.”

UMass also didn’t score for the final 2:49 of the third quarter and the first 6:32 of the second.

The Minutewomen won’t have to wait long to respond. Davidson is visiting the Mullins Center at 5 p.m. Friday. It’s part of an eight-day stretch where UMass will play four times.

“Not being able to beat a team we’ve beat already, we know how they play. What was the difference? It’s all about the get back,” Philoxy said. “We can’t let this team get the best of us, so we’re going to come back and come back stronger. We promise that.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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