Minutewomen now 5-3 this season
The Minutewomen are off to a solid start to the season, but inconsistent performances have stopped the team from building too much momentum so far. Over the Thanksgiving break, coach Verdi picked up his 100th win and the team went on to win four out of five of their games during the break. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep the momentum rolling against North Dakota on Wednesday night, but they will have a chance to rebound in Boston against Northeastern on Sunday.
Last Week’s Games
The team captains, Jessica George and Hailey Leidel, stepped up in this game to combine for 30 points in an effort to get coach Verdi his 100th win. The team followed their lead as the Minutewomen won every quarter in this one. Seven players scored more than seven points and the defense held Central Connecticut to 21% shooting from the 3-point line in the complete effort.
This was a revenge game from last year’s Texas road trip in which UMass lost in Rio Grande Valley’s tournament. The Minutewomen appeared to be on a dangerous track after allowing the Vaqueros to separate themselves just before halftime. Fortunately, UMass came out in the second half and eliminated the lead by the end of the third, eventually pulling away in the fourth. Hailey Leidel’s 28 points on four 3-pointers was the catalyst of the comeback, putting the Minutewomen on a two-game winning streak.
UMass couldn’t keep the win streak alive as they got off to a slow start their first night in Providence for Brown’s Turkey Tip-Off Tournament. Bucknell got out to a 28-11 first quarter in large part because they shot 60 percent from the 3-point line and 60 percent overall in the first half without even needing more than two free throw attempts to put up 46 first half points. The Minutewomen did stop the bleeding a little bit in the second half defensively but couldn’t get any offense of their own going in the blowout defeat.
After another day to get settled in the tournament, UMass responded in a big way by putting up 90 points in their 29-point victory over tournament-host Brown. Bre Hampton-Bey and Hailey Leidel had 18 points a piece in this one as four of the five starters all scored in double figures. The Minutewomen forced 19 turnovers and outshot Brown by 20 percent from 3 as just about everything seemed to go right.
The final day in a grueling 3-day tournament presented some offensive struggles for both UMass and Fairfield. The good news for UMass is that they were able to build a solid lead at the start and play consistently enough to hold on to it throughout the game. Hampton-Bey and Leidel were as consistent as ever by nearly matching their point totals from the Brown contest just the night before, scoring 18 and 17 respectively. The difference in this one was that the shots just weren’t falling for everyone, including Leidel who shot 5/17 on the afternoon. The three other starters also only scored two points each after their impressive outing the day before.
It seemed like UMass at least had some form of momentum and some rest heading into another rematch game from the 2017-18 season. This one, however, didn’t go their way. They got off to a terrible start shooting the ball and even had a 10-minute scoring drought. North Dakota ended up having a drought of their own which allowed the Minutewomen to stay in the game. Still, not being able to generate enough offense, early foul trouble for guards Bre Hampton-Bey and Destiney Philoxy, and a 30-point game from North Dakota star Lexi Klabo all contributed to the narrow defeat. The loss was the team’s first home loss this season where they have otherwise experienced great success.
The Week Ahead