UMass basketball: Minutewomen have 12-game winning streak halted in loss at Saint Louis


Staff Writer

Published: 02-22-2023 11:30 PM

UMass dialed up Sam Breen a great look, and she muscled and hustled her way to an even better one.

The Minutewomen trailed the Saint Louis women’s basketball team by three with 27 seconds remaining Wednesday in Chaifetz Arena and had the ball after trapping the Billikens into a turnover. UMass ran a play that put Breen one-on-one on the low block, but she missed the layup. Ber’Nyah Mayo tracked down the offensive rebound and fired a 3. That missed, but Breen chased it into the corner. With Saint Louis’ defense scrambling she turned around into a comfortable 3. It didn’t go down, and the Billikens made free throws with three seconds left after UMass finally fouled enough to get into the bonus.

Breen sank a 3 with less than a second on the clock, but it just narrowed the final margin to 77-75 Saint Louis, ending the Minutewomen’s program record 12-game winning streak.

The loss, UMass’ first since Jan. 4 against Rhode Island, pulled the Minutewomen back into a dead heat with the Rams atop the Atlantic 10 standings after Rhody also lost on Wednesday night.

“We allowed them to get confidence. We did not execute, and we did not play together,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said of Saint Louis.

Breen scored 23 points with nine rebounds to lead UMass (23-5, 13-2 A-10), and she became the career points leader in school history in the process (1,880 points). Sue Peters still holds the UMass points record (1,858 points), as Breen scored 44 points at Penn State before transferring to Amherst, though she’s now within 22 points of hitting that number.

Mayo added 16 points, while Destiney Philoxy had 12.

The Minutewomen stormed out to a nine-point lead early and put together a 28-point fourth quarter. Saint Louis held them to just 22 points over the middle two frames and took a 49-48 lead when Camre Clegg splashed a 3 with 4 minutes, 31 seconds to go in the third quarter.

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The Billikens’ lead grew as large as seven with 1:32 left after UMass tied it 61-61 with 6:50 remaining.

Saint Louis out rebounded the Minutewomen 45-35 and grabbed 17 offensive boards.

The Minutewomen will close the regular season Saturday against George Washington at the Mullins Center (4 p.m. NESN-Plus/ESPN-Plus) with a chance to win the regular season conference title outright.

“We’re fortunate that we have the ability to make something special happen,” Verdi said. “A different basketball team needs to show up than we saw.”