No. 5 UMass Denied By No. 4 Saint Louis In A-10
DAYTON, Ohio – No. 5 seed University of Massachusetts women's basketball was within two possessions into the fourth quarter, but No. 4 Saint Louis went on a 9-2 run to pull away in the final stanza as the Minutewomen fell, 65-52, on Friday afternoon in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals at UD Arena. Massachusetts exits the championship with a record of 20-11, tied for the most wins in a season in program history, while the Billikens (19-12) advance to the Semifinals and will face top-seeded Dayton Saturday at 11 a.m. Four Minutewomen contributed double-figure scoring efforts, led by 14 points from junior Sam Breen, 11 apiece by senior Hailey Leidel and freshman Maeve Donnelly and 10 from senior Vashnie Perry. Breen's eight rebounds were a team-high, as were sophomore Destiney Philoxy's four assists and three steals.
Heuvelton's Paige McCormick scored two points on 1-2 in a reserve role. For the second straight game, the Maroon and White built solid momentum shortly after the opening tip with an 11-2 run. Leidel capped the stretch with a right-corner three at the 5:15 mark to give the squad a 13-5 lead, but SLU answered with eight straight to level the score at 13-all. Donnelly then made 1-of-2 at the free throw line and a layup in the final minute, returning the advantage to UMass. The Billikens shot a lights-out 64.3% (9-of-14) in the second stanza and were powered by Rachel Kent with 17 points before the half. SLU went on another 8-0 run in the period and later took a 36-29 lead into the break. Both teams mostly traded buckets in the third period, but Massachusetts clawed back within four thanks to a strong defensive effort in the final three minutes as the squad kept the Billikens off the board in their last four possessions, all the while receiving jumpers from Leidel and Perry. Breen connected an inside left jumper at the 6:18 mark of the final frame, bringing the deficit to 51-47, but from there SLU went on a 9-2 run and carried a double-digit lead for the rest of the contest. Leidel's efforts carried her to 1,841 career points, already in sole possession of No. 2 on the program's scoring list and just 17 from tying Sue Peters' record of 1,858 points from 1976-80. She has now appeared in 123 career games, started 120 contests, played 4,311 minutes and made 307 three-pointers, all program records. Kent led all players with 22 points on 8-of-16 from the field and SLU's Myriama Smith Traore just missed a double-double with nine points plus 12 boards. Follow UMass women's basketball on Twitter (@UMassWBB), Instagram (UMassWBB) and Facebook (UMass Women's Basketball) for the latest news and updates around the program.