Sydney Taylor passes 1,000-point mark as UMass women’s basketball beats UMass Lowell

Staff writer 
Published: 11/22/2022 9:22:56 PM
Modified: 11/22/2022 9:22:57 PM

LOWELL – Though she’s known best as Sydney “Swish” Taylor on social media, Taylor was having trouble sinking triples this season for UMass. Not a huge problem for the Minutewomen, since Taylor has evolved into an all-around player who can score anywhere on the court. 

All the same, it felt right when Taylor sank two triples to open the Minutewomen’s game against UMass Lowell on Tuesday night to earn her 1,000th career point. 

“It feels good. I couldn’t do it without my teammates and my coaching support,” Taylor said. “I kind of knew it was coming, but it feels great. I’m speechless right now.” 

Taylor had no trouble finishing against the River Hawks, scoring a team-high 25 points en route to a 71-53 win. 11 of those points came in the first quarter, when she sank three triples to help the Minutewomen to a strong start. When the final buzzer sounded, she was enveloped by her teammates in celebration, along with her mom and sister, who had traveled with her dad to watch her historic night. 

UMass shot 30 percent or better from the field in all four quarters, but Lowell wouldn’t go away in the first half of the contest. The last time these two teams met, the Minutewomen eked out a 58-53 win, and the River Hawks were determined to keep it close again. 

The home team’s defense was relentless in the first period, garnering five steals and nearly matching Taylor’s torrid scoring pace; UMass led by just four points after the first quarter with a 16-12 lead. 

The Minutewomen tried to widen that gap, going on a 7-0 run to open the second frame and build up a 23-12 lead. After trading buckets back and forth, Lowell kept UMass scoreless for two and a half minutes, going on a 6-0 run of its own, and an Ivory Finley triple pulled the River Hawks within two points of the Minutewomen with less than two minutes in the quarter. A pair of Taylor free throws gave UMass a 30-26 lead at the half, but it was far too close for the visitors’ liking.

UMass coach Tory Verdi made that known after the game concluded. Despite his team coming away with an 18-point victory, there were too many mistakes that he saw from his team. 

“We can’t play down to the level of our competition, and we did that tonight for whatever reason. It was disappointing,” Verdi said. “I look at this game as probably our worst game of the season. And it wasn’t that they did anything to us, it was all self-inflicted. We’re a veteran team, and I know we’re not going to be perfect every time we take the floor, but we’re going to be darn close. Those are my expectations.” 

That changed after halftime. The Minutewomen stormed out of the locker room and posted another 7-0 run to start the quarter, with Ber’Nyah Mayo and Destiney Philoxy both hitting layups and Taylor hitting her fourth triple of the night. Three different Minutewomen found themselves at the charity stripe in the third and the team went 6-6 on shots from Mayo, Angelique Ngalakolundi and Makennah White. By the end of the penultimate period, UMass had outscored Lowell 19-9 to take a commanding 49-35 lead. 

The fourth frame was the Makennah White show. After a modest two points in the first half and sinking a pair of free throws in the third, White blew the doors off the Tsongas Center in the final frame. The junior picked up 12 points over a span of four and a half minutes, including the first three-pointer of her college career. There was nothing Lowell could do to stop her or catch up. Amaya Dowdy had a career night for the River Hawks, scoring 18 points and grabbing ten boards for a double-double, but it wasn’t enough for the total-team effort that UMass threw at them. 

Philoxy also finished in double-digits for the Minutewomen with 13 points, seven assists and three steals. Sam Breen fell just shy of a double-double with nine points and 10 boards while Mayo added six points and six rebounds. Laila Fair also made her UMass debut, albeit an abbreviated one, playing a single minute. 

UMass will stay on the road for the next pair of games, traveling to Miami, Fla., to participate in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic. Their first contest will be against Drake on Friday at 2 p.m. 

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