2017-18 Record: 14-16 (Overall), 9-6 (Atlantic 10)
Minutewomen Set to Take Another Step Forward in 2018-19
The UMass Women’s Basketball team officially opens their season at the Mullins Center this afternoon at 4:30 p.m against Sacred Heart. The team is coming off a massive exhibition win, defeating UMass Dartmouth 109-51.
Last year the Minutewomen were 14-16 overall with a 6-10 record in the A10, losing in the first round of the conference tournaments in Saint Louis. The loss of seniors Maggie Mulligan and Leah McDerment will be felt, especially down low where Mulligan was second on the team in scoring with 11.4 ppg as well as the only player to average more than 5 rebounds (10.7).
Last Season’s Top Moment: McCormick’s Buzzer-Beater Lifts Minutewomen Over Liberty, 64-61
(Credit: UMass Athletics)
Despite the senior losses, the Minutewomen are heading into their most promising season since head coach Tory Verdi took over three years ago by far. A10 All-Rookie team point guard Bre Hampton-Bey is returning with the improved focus of a sophomore, and former A10 Rookie of the Year Hailey Leidel is coming off a season in which she broke the school record for 3-pointers made in a season.
The starting lineup is made up of all returners, but this team is built on a foundation of youth. Leidel and Hampton-Bey are joined by Anil Soysal, a 6-5 redshirt freshman who is coming back from injury but figures to dominate the A10 down low as the season goes on. Jessica George and Genesis Rivera round out the starting five as the team’s two seniors.
Incoming Transfers and Recruits:
A strong freshman class, featuring a great finisher in Destiny Philoxy, a 3-point dead-eye in Madison Lowery, and an athletic offensive rebounding wing in Asia McCoy, headlines a young bench unit influenced by the leadership of junior Vashnie Perry.
This is all without returner Paige McCormick, the dynamic scorer, while she rehabs from injury along with two 6-foot or above freshmen Jessica Nelson and Alexa Kellner. Walk-ons Lauraine Joensen and Mackenzie Sullivan make up the rest of the roster.
The Minutewomen’s 109-point outing showcases the offensive talent that the team has at its disposal, even early in the season. A UMass team that averaged 68.3 points per game last year will look to improve on that number as they compete with the elite of the Atlantic 10.
Overall, despite having a losing record on the season, UMass was 9-6 at the Mullins Center even with suffering two losses by less than five points at home. The Minutewomen can be expected to win 10 or more games at home this season, feeding off the comfortable atmosphere to get their shooters going.
With six of this year’s home games against teams that UMass lost to by 11 points or fewer, there could be a major turnaround this season, and the Minutewomen could even be in line to host an A10 playoff game.
On Tuesday, the Minutewomen take on Sacred Heart in their regular season opener. The Pioneers are coming off a 14-17 season where they averaged 62.8 points per game with a 5-11 record on the road. After only losing one senior last year the Pioneers return most of the same players and will be a nice early season test for UMass. Still, the Minutewomen’s home court should give them the edge in this one. PREDICTION: UMass 72 Sacred Heart 63