Slow start dooms UMass women’s basketball in loss to Davidson

  • Destiney Philoxy and the UMass women’s basketball team dropped a 76-67 decision to Davidson on the road in Atlantic 10 action on Sunday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer 
Published: 2/20/2022 5:16:32 PM
Modified: 2/20/2022 5:16:11 PM

After an emotional history-making win on Wednesday, the UMass women’s basketball team couldn’t keep up with Davidson on Sunday afternoon.

UMass fell 76-67 on the road to the Wildcats in Atlantic 10 action, as Davidson celebrated Senior Day with an upset win. Sam Breen grabbed nine boards and put up a season-best 26 points (she scored 26 once earlier this year against UMass Lowell) in the loss, but it wasn’t enough for UMass. 

“It's not like a hangover. I mean, it's not – you’ve got a game next day, you’ve got to prepare for it. For whatever reason, we didn't prepare for it the right way,” UMass head coach Tory Verdi said. “Give Davidson credit, because I thought that they came out with a sense of urgency.” 

The Minutewomen struggled with a consistent effort all day, but it showed the most in the opening period, where Davidson outscored UMass 20-9. The Minutewomen have had issues with slow first quarters most of the season, but those games had typically been at home. Sunday’s game was one of the few times on the road that UMass struggled out of the gate. 

Besides inconsistency, shooting became one of the Minutewomen’s biggest problems, particularly from behind the three-point arc. UMass missed all three triples in the first, and went just 2-for-18 in three-point shooting for the game. It was this statistic more than any other that Verdi pointed to during the postgame press conference. 

“We’ve got to do a better job shooting the ball from the three-point line. We can't go 2-for-18. We can't. We have numbers of 1-for-7, 0-for-4. We can't be 2-for-18,” Verdi said. “If we're able to knock down three point shots, it opens up everything else — they're worried about the perimeter. We’ve got to do a better job knocking down those shots.” 

After a first period where they shot just 28.6 percent, the Minutewomen pulled themselves back in the second, shooting 53.8 percent from the field and opening the quarter with back-to-back buckets from Breen and Sydney Taylor to pull within seven points. From there, it was a back-and forth game with neither team managing to string together more than a four-point run at a time. The half ended controversially with Makennah White appearing to draw a foul as the shot clock expired; on replay, the ball had clearly left White’s hands before time ran out, but the officials hit the Minutewomen with a shot clock violation instead of free throws, and they went into the half down 35-25. 

The third quarter was UMass’ most complete period of the contest. After Chloe Welch knocked down a shot for Davidson, the Minutewomen went on a 6-0 run to pull within 37-32. They pulled within three points twice during the quarter.

Davidson answered with a run in the latter half of the quarter, outscoring UMass 12-2 over a three and a half minute span and putting the visitors down 57-44 with just over a minute remaining. Despite falling into a 13-point hole, Philoxy looked to spark her team heading into the final frame, going on a 6-0 run herself in the last 49 seconds to make it 57-50.

Despite Philoxy’s effort, and Breen opening the fourth with two baskets to pull back within three, it was the closest that UMass would get for the remainder of the game. Though they got plenty of looks, the Minutewomen weren’t able to capitalize on most of their offensive chances, shooting just 31.8 percent. The game was within reach with three minutes to play at 68-64, but the Wildcats were able to ice it away when Issy Morgan hit a jumper with 1:28 left to make it 70-64. Davidson sank six free throws in the last 33 seconds to put the win firmly out of reach. 

It was, overall, a frustrating game for UMass, a team that has found its identity this season by being a resilient and difficult to play against. Verdi said the club looked a little lost on Sunday and had difficulty playing the kind of basketball that has led to 21 wins this season. 

“We’ve gotta stick together through the adversity. I don't think that we did a great job there today. I don't think our players did it, I don’t think I did it. That’s where we could grow from this. Whether you call it frustration, that's fine. I was frustrated, no question about it,” Verdi said. “You could control so much of this game, and being outworked and being out-toughed is not who we are.”

UMass (21-6) will return home to the Mullins Center to host VCU on Wednesday.


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