Packed schedule welcome for UMass women’s basketball

  • The UMass women’s basketball team is beginning a stretch of four games in eight days. After three weeks off, they wouldn’t have it any other way. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/4/2021 10:43:15 AM

After not playing for 21 days, the UMass women’s basketball team will be able to measure its time between games in hours this week.

The Minutewomen will play four games in a span of eight days. They beat La Salle in Philadelphia on Sunday and will host Rhode Island at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Mullins Center. Then Davidson visits at 5 p.m. Friday, and UMass hosts Fordham at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“We live for game day, so having four in about a week’s time, it’s a lot, not gonna deny that, but it’s super exciting,” UMass senior Sam Breen said.

UMass (6-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) has won its last five games, so it makes sense the Minutewomen want to stay on the court as much as possible. They rank second in the conference in points per game (75.6) and lead the Atlantic 10 shooting 47% from the floor. UMass boasts the league’s highest turnover margin, giving up the ball 4.43 times per game fewer than its opponents, and the Minutewomen are first in the A-10 in assist to turnover ratio (1.16).

They lead the league in assists at 17.86 per game powered by junior point guard Destiney Philoxy, who is first individually (8.6).

Breen is second in the league in scoring (22 points per game) and third in rebounding (nine per contest). She played all 40 minutes against La Salle, while Philoxy, Sydney Taylor and Ber’Nyah Mayo all had more than 30.

UMass coach Tory Verdi only used eight players against the Explorers but plans to expand his bench this week. Sophomore post Maeve Donnelly could make her season debut if her conditioning is up to the task after missing every game so far in the concussion protocol.

“We haven’t played in three weeks, so I’m not worried about being tired,” he said. “We’ll get back and we’ll take care of our players, they’ll ice bath and stretch and all that good stuff.”

Verdi compared the week to playing in a tournament like the A-10 championships. Reaching that crown requires four victories in a span of a week, too.

“You’ve just got to be tough,” he said.

Following Sunday’s victory over La Salle and subsequent return to Amherst, the next box to check is Rhode Island for the second time this season. UMass prevailed 79-69 when the teams met in early December.

The Minutewomen used a balanced approach with three players (Philoxy, Taylor and Mayo) scoring at least 18 points. Rhode Island shot well but turned the ball over 17 times. It will be the first time UMass has seen an opponent twice this season.

That is if the game goes as scheduled. It was supposed to be Sunday before positive COVID-19 tests in the Saint Joseph’s program required some shuffling by the A-10.

If not then it’s on to Davidson.

“We’re gonna take care of our bodies and get rest when we need to and come back and attack the next day like we have to,” Breen said. “With the schedule and everything changing, you never know.”

BREEN NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK — After her third straight double-double, Breen was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week on Monday. She scored 25 points with 13 rebounds and four steals against La Salle on Sunday.

It’s the second conference player of the week award of Breen’s career and first this year.

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


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