The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

Minutewomen Basketball falls 78-57 against Harvard

Harvard’s Lola Mullaney and Harmoni Turner led Crimson to a decisive victory
Kalina Kornacki

UMass Women’s Basketball was downed by Harvard 78-57 in another tough game for Massachusetts. The Minutewomen had an up-and-down game. They were outscored 53-22 in the first and fourth quarters but outscored Harvard 35-25 in the second and third. Guard Stefanie Kulesza scored 13 and added 10 rebounds for her second career double-double for UMass. 

Harvard opened the game on an 8-0 run in the first and refused to lower their offensive and defensive pressure. Massachusetts did not have an answer on defense for forwards Harmoni Turner and Katie Krupa who combined for 16 in the first quarter. 

On the offensive side, the Minutewomen hit just 3-15 shots in the first compared to 9-14 for Harvard. UMass also turned the ball over seven times as turnovers continue to be a problem for this new squad. Heading into Thursday night, Massachusetts was averaging 17.3 turnovers a game, nearly four more per game than last season. 

Freshman guard Dallas Pierce did provide a spark on offense hitting two three-pointers off the bench, but UMass would still end the quarter down 28-8. The team did not want the rest of the game to follow that path.

“We just needed to settle down,” said guard Kristin Williams after the game. “Honestly, I think we’re a team that needs to get with the flow.”

The tide shifted in favor of UMass in the second quarter as they outscored Harvard 18-11. However, Harvard still led 39-26. Williams led UMass with nine points including two three-pointers to keep UMass within reach. Kulesza added five points of her own. 

UMass still struggled with turnovers picking up six in the quarter. However, Harvard had 11 of their own through the first half. Harvard also scored nine more points off of turnovers through two quarters. 

The Crimson finished the first half shooting 45% from the floor, compared to just 30% for the Minutewomen. Harvard also found themselves pulling out to an early lead thanks to nine second-chance points. Krupa and Elena Rodriguez were strong opponents in the paint and made life difficult for an undersized UMass team. 

Harvard’s Lola Mullaney and Turner led the Crimson in scoring with 11 points through the half. Turner also picked up her thousandth career point in this game. Through the first three quarters, UMass had been outscored 46-36 in the second quarter so it was a positive to see them win the quarter decisively. 

Down by 13, UMass began the second half with a chip on their shoulder. The Minutewomen fought hard and after a Williams layup and one along with a layup from Jermany Mapp, Massachusetts was within nine.

The Minutewomen did a great job controlling the ball on offense and only turned the ball over four times in the third. However, the three-point shooting woes that plagued UMass all game persisted as they shot 0-5 in the third and 4-20 across the entire game. Harvard on the other hand shot 11-24 led by Mullaney who shot 7-13 from long range. 

UMass outscored Harvard 17-14 in the third meaning it would be a ten-point game going into the fourth.

“I think once we started scoring and [saw] the ball go in and then I think someone got an and-one, then next possession we got a steal, then they got a turnover and they got a charge,” said Williams in regards to keeping the team fighting through the second and third quarter. “We just build off of those, just getting one good possession at a time.”

The fourth quarter did not prove successful for Massachusetts as they were outscored 25-14 including a Crimson 15-0 run midway through the quarter. Mullaney drained multiple three-pointers and the game was out of reach. 

Freshman Lily Taulelei had struggled to fight against a tall Harvard frontcourt but found her stride in the fourth. Taulelei played the most physical basketball of her young collegiate career and scored four points as well as drawing a foul.

The Minutewomen continued to struggle on the boards and were outrebounded 38-29. Harvard’s Saniyah Glenn recorded 10 total rebounds including five offensive, a key factor in Harvard’s 19 second-chance points. 

Despite a grueling 78-57 loss, UMass did not give up or hang their heads but rather fought hard for buckets and rebounds throughout the game. Head coach Mike Leflar has a lot to work on to keep this team competitive in conference play. 

According to Leflar, the team is ready to put in the work: “The team that was on the floor tonight competing, sticking together,” he said. “That’s a team I’m excited to coach, that’s a team that I saw take steps forward.” The Minutewomen will begin a stretch of six games on the road starting with Monmouth on Sunday.

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