Dynamic duo lift UMass women’s basketball past St. Bonaventure 

  • UMass guard Ber'Nyah Mayo, shown earlier this season against Harvard, had a big night to propel the Minutewomen past St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer 
Published: 2/9/2022 9:22:21 PM
Modified: 2/9/2022 9:20:40 PM

Though they’ve sometimes struggled coming out of the gate, the UMass women’s basketball team wasted no time building a lead against St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night.

The Minutewomen were in their element against the Bonnies, sailing to a 78-59 Atlantic 10 win on the road in Olean, N.Y., their third consecutive victory.

The stars of the show were the dynamic duo of Ber’Nyah Mayo and Angelique Ngalakolundi, who were dominant all night long. Mayo scored a season-high 18 points with ease, also picking up two steals and a rebound in the win, while Ngalakolundi owned the paint, knocking down a career-high 20 points, every single one of them via a layup; the junior went 9-for-10 from the field, missing just a single shot all game long.

“We knew that we would have a size advantage. We wanted to get their interior post players in foul trouble. So we wanted to attack in the interior,” UMass head coach Tori Verdi said. “We wanted high percentage shots, we wanted to get a piece of the paint and so that's why we started it the way we did. I thought we did a great job of that tonight.”

Sydney Taylor knocked down 11 points for UMass and grabbed eight boards, while Sam Breen earned her 14th double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

UMass (18-5) flew out of the gate early, capitalizing on several lob passes to Ngalakolundi in the post that she easily threw up to build the team’s lead. St. Bonaventure’s offense struggled to answer back, and after Sydney Taylor knocked down a triple to extend the Minutewomen’s lead to 11-4, St. Bonaventure head coach Jesse Fleming was forced to call a timeout to slow the momentum. 

The Minutewomen kept their foot on the gas, finishing the first quarter with a commanding 24-10 lead. The visitors shot 50-percent from the field, while the Bonnies knocked down just 27.3 percent of their shot attempts in the opening frame. 

“We're inconsistent. More often than not, we get off to a great start on the road, but then at home we don't, so whatever it is, we’ve got to figure it out,” Verdi said. “I thought we came out with a great sense of urgency. We talked about it, and I thought that we were ready to play here tonight.”

The Bonnies (12-10) attempted a surge in the second quarter, but while they chipped away at the Minutewomen’s lead, weren't able to make a sizable dent in it. Mayo, who finished the first quarter with seven points, continued her dominant performance in the second, opening the scoring for UMass with a jumper and closing out the frame with a statement triple with 24 seconds to go.

Though the Minutewomen only posted 16 points in the second quarter, they received offensive contributions from up and down their lineup. Mayo was the only player on UMass to score twice in the second quarter – Breen, Taylor, Michelle Pruitt, Destiney Philoxy and Makennah White all found the scoreboard for the Minutewomen. While Verdi complimented both Mayo and Ngalakolundi for their strong games during postgame media, he made sure to point out that tonight's game was a result of a strong team performance.

“Having four people in double-digit scoring shows you that it was a complete, balanced scoring attack,” Verdi said. “[St. Bonaventure] is a team that was playing really, really well. I thought we did a great job containing them. I thought our defense bothered them as well. Overall, a great team win.”

UMass had its strongest shooting performance in the third quarter, knocking down 64.3 percent of its shots. UMass went on a 15-7 run over a six-minute period in the third quarter, building up an 18-point lead late. From there, the game was all but over for the Bonnies. 

The home team put up a 7-0 run over a minute-long span in the middle of the fourth courtesy of Asianae Johnson and Tori Harris, but UMass answered with a 6-0 run of its own from Ngalakolundi and Breen, who got going in the latter half of the contest. Ngalakolundi capped off her momentous game with one more layup with 2:15 remaining to account for her career-best 20th point before heading to the bench shortly after.

UMass returns home to host George Mason on Friday at noon at the Mullins Center.

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