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UMass falls one play short against Atlantic 10-leading Dayton

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  • Sam Breen, right, of UMass, shoots against Jordan Wilmoth, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Vashnie Perry, right, of UMass, passes while defended by Araion Bradshaw, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Destiney Philoxy, of UMass, drives to the basket against Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Breen, right, of UMass, begins a pass against Kyla Whitehead, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Breen, top, of UMass, snags a loose ball from Kyla Whitehead, of Dayton, that occurred after a rebound Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hailey Leidel, center, of UMass, passes over the head of Dayton defender Jenna Giacone, left, to teammate Maeve Donnelly, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Breen, left, of UMass, looks for a shot against Kyla Whitehead, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Breen, right, of UMass, shoots after getting past Kyla Whitehead, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bre Hampton-Bey, right, of UMass, passes away from Julia Chandler, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Paige McCormick, right, of UMass, shoots against Julia Chandler, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bre Hampton-Bey, right, of UMass, passes away from Julia Chandler, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass players Bre Hampton-Bey, center, and Sam Breen, right, defend Jayla Scaife, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Maeve Donnelly, right, of UMass, shoots against Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Maeve Donnelly, center, of UMass, reaches for a rebound against Julia Chandler, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Destiney Philoxy, right, of UMass, drives past Dayton defenders Julia Chandler, left, and Jayla Scaife, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bre Hampton-Bey, of UMass, draws a foul from Araion Bradshaw, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hailey Leidel, right, of UMass, drives past Erin Whalen, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hailey Leidel, center, of UMass, moves the ball against Dayton defenders Julia Chandler, left, and Erin Whalen, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass Head Coach Tony Verdi shouts instructions to his team during their game against Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. Destiney Philoxy moves the ball. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Vashnie Perry, right, of UMass, moves the ball against Kyla Whitehead, of Dayton, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Mullins Center. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2020 10:50:15 PM

AMHERST — As UMass left the Mullins Center court on Wednesday night, the bitter taste of defeat was just a tad more exaggerated.

For 40 minutes, the Minutewomen hung with Dayton, the unbeaten leaders in the Atlantic 10, and they felt like they probably should have won the game. UMass executed everything it wanted to do on defense from limiting the Flyers in transition to forcing them to play to their weaknesses. Dayton shot just 33 percent from the field and UMass won the rebounding battle.

The issue was that last offensive play again eluded the Minutewomen. They went nearly four minutes without a basket late in the fourth quarter and couldn’t get a clean look at the basket in the final 8.8 seconds, resulting in a 52-51 loss.

“In order to beat a team like Dayton, we just needed to execute a little bit better down the stretch,” coach Tory Verdi said. “We had a couple offensive opportunities where we didn’t execute and we came up empty. They were able to score it on their end. It’s a one-possession game, we were right there, and it goes to show – I’ve said this all along – on our best night, we can play anybody in the A10, but we need everybody’s best all the time.”

The ending was not without some controversy from both sides that ultimately tilted the game in Dayton’s favor. Maeve Donnelly was whistled for a blocking foul with 8.8 seconds left and UMass defending a one-point lead. Although there was plenty of contact for a foul to be called, the whistle was not blown for two or three seconds after the shot was taken while the teams scrapped for the rebound.

The Minutewomen also had a potential case for Sam Breen getting fouled on a layup attempt with 4.4 seconds left and Verdi passionately argued Breen was fouled on a desperation 3 at the buzzer, earning him a technical after the game ended.

Yet, it didn’t take away from the fact UMass didn’t execute its under-the-basket play cleanly as the inbounds pass was too high for Breen, forcing her into the prayer from half court that fell woefully short. Nor did it absolve the Minutewomen from the nearly four-minute dry spell late in the fourth quarter during which they had a shot-clock violation, a wild, out-of-control layup attempt and a poor entry pass that was stolen.

“We just need to be more clean with some of our plays,” senior guard Hailey Leidel said. “A couple of times we didn’t set the right screens or didn’t get the right look, whatever it might have been. We need to be more relaxed and be more precise with our execution.”

Even as UMass (16-9, 6-6 Atlantic 10) failed to score in the fourth quarter, it held up on defense during that span. While the Minutewomen were in a lull after taking a one-point lead on a Leidel 3-pointer, Dayton was having a tough time solving the UMass defense. The Flyers (18-7, 11-0) quickly retook the lead on a three-point play, but then missed their next four shots before collecting an offensive rebound with 47.3 seconds left and making a layup.

That was a stretch where the game could have gotten away from UMass, but Leidel said the Minutewomen knew how they were going to win the game and stayed focused on that objective.

“We knew defense and rebounding were going to win us the game,” Leidel said. “In the moment, it wasn’t emphasized but we just knew as a whole that no matter what we’re doing on offense, as long as we’re taking care of business on the defensive end, we’re going to put ourselves in a position to win.”

The four-point deficit seemed insurmountable given the Minutewomen’s offensive woes, but three seconds of brilliance changed all that. Bre Hampton-Bey drove through the lane and hit a tough floater over Julia Chandler while getting fouled to cut Dayton’s lead in half. She missed the ensuing free throw, but Breen swooped in for the offensive rebound and flicked in a layup while she was fouled to tie the game.

Breen made the free throw to give UMass a one-point advantage with 37.2 seconds left, finishing off her 23-point performance.

“I don’t know, free-throw rebounds, I don’t why, but I really try to get those so much,” Breen said. “That one came right to me and I was hoping they would call the foul, so I threw it up. I was on the floor watching it roll in and went in I was like ‘Thank God.’ Once it went in I was like ‘I need to make this free throw’ and thankfully I made it.”

Dayton’s one chance to run away with the game came during the second quarter when the Flyers went on a 13-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at eight points. The second quarter has been an issue for UMass recently as the Minutewomen have been outscored by 14, 9 and 14 points in their last three games in the stanza to squander good starts to the game.

Verdi called timeout with 4½ minutes left in the second quarter after Dayton scored the final point in that run. UMass responded out of the pep talk to score six of the final seven points in the quarter and trim the deficit to one possession at halftime.

“(The message was) just don’t let it get to our heads,” Leidel said. “Whether or not people make a run, we just have to stay focused and stay the course. Even though we knew they made a run, we knew ours would come, too, so we just tried to stay focused, stay in the game and not get too worried about it.”




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