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UMass Headlines as Automatic Qualifier into the WNIT and Four Other A10 Teams Join Them

After UMass’s tough loss to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 championships, the regular season co-champions secured themselves a spot in the Women’s NIT (or WNIT). UMass played several powerhouse teams this season including 3 power 6 schools. UMass went 1-3 against teams that made it into the NCAA tournament. The Minutewomen defeated Drake but lost to Tennessee and Saint Louis twice. UMass went 1-2 against power 6 schools with the win against Arizona State and losses to Missouri and Tennessee. The Minutewomen went on a twelve-game winning streak, now the program record.  The Minutewomen are 26-6 overall and they are one win away from making program history with having the most wins in a season. UMass only lost to Rhode Island, Tennessee, Columbia, Missouri, and Saint Louis twice. In conference play, UMass went 14-2 in the regular season, only losing to Rhode Island and Saint Louis. The 14 wins in conference play made program history this season with it being the most in program history. Another piece to point out for the Minutewomen is that they have scored the most points in a season in the program’s history, and their season is not over quite yet which was reported by Jacob Munch on March 15th.

UMass has a powerhouse team that can make them hard to guard in so many ways. Sam Breen has been the player that teams try to focus on the most because of the awards she has racked up during her time at UMass. Breen has been named player of the year for two straight seasons in the Atlantic 10 and was named to the all-conference first team for this season and the 2021-2022 season. Breen was most recently named a finalist for the Becky Hammon Mid Major Player of the Year Award. Alongside Breen, Sydney Taylor can be another player to watch with how well she can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court. Taylor was also named to the first all-conference team during the 2022-2023 season alongside Breen. Destiney Philoxy is the playmaker on this team and will put her body on the line to take a charge to get the momentum back in UMass’s favor. Ber’Nyah Mayo finally got the recognition that was deserved by being named to the all-conference second team and the all-championship team this season. This team has been making history all the way back to when they had the “Savage Seven” nickname during the 2020-2021 season. UMass faces UAlbany on Friday, March 17th in the Mullins Center at 7pm in the first round of the WNIT, and is available to stream on ESPN3.  UAlbany has former UMass player, Grace Heeps, who transferred to UAlbany after her freshman year. Heeps has since become a starter at UAlbany right after her arrival.

Joining UMass in the WNIT are Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Richmond, and Fordham. Each of these teams finished within the top 6 of the conference. All five of these teams have been placed in the Group 2 Region of the WNIT and all have the possibility of playing another team within the Atlantic 10 conference before advancing to the Super Sixteen in the WNIT.

Rhode Island was regular season co-champions with UMass and lost to Saint Louis in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 championship. Rhode Island went 1-2 against teams that made the NCAA tournament with the win coming against Saint Louis and losses coming to Princeton and Saint Louis.  Rhode Island went 24-6 overall through the season and has the A-10 coach of the year, Tammi Reiss to help lead them in the right direction and hopefully a long run into the WNIT. Rhode Island plays at home in the Ryan Center against Boston University on Friday, March 17th at 6pm, with it being available to be streamed on ESPN3.

Saint Joseph’s finished off in 6th place in the conference with their tournament run ending in the quarterfinals with a loss to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 Championship. The Hawks are led by reigning Rookie of the Year, Laura Ziegler, and all-conference first-team member Tayla Brugler. Saint Joseph’s went 20-10 overall and held ground against several teams that had the capability of making the NCAA Tournament or WNIT, but often lost the close battles to those teams. The Hawks went 1-3 against teams that are in the NCAA Tournament losing to Villanova, James Madison, and Saint Louis, with the lone win against Saint Louis. The Hawks will play at Seton Hall on Thursday, March 16th at 7pm available to watch on FloSports.

Richmond finished their season off in 5th place in the conference run and their Atlantic 10 Championship run ended with a loss to UMass in the conference semifinals. The Spiders went 20-10 overall in the regular season and 1-1 against teams in the NCAA Tournament with the win coming against Saint Louis and the loss coming against Duke. Some players to watch for the Spiders include  Grace Townsend, Rachel Ullstrom, all-conference second-team member Addie Budnik, and Maddie Doogan who was named to both all-conference third-team and all-conference rookie team. Richmond will face off against UPenn on Thursday, March 16th in the Robins Center at 6pm and is available to watch on ESPN3.

Fordham finished off their season in 4th place in the conference and their Atlantic 10 Championship hopes were ended by Richmond in the conference quarterfinals. Fordham went 18-12 overall in the season and was 0-3 against teams that made the NCAA Tournament losing to Saint Louis, Maryland, and Princeton. Fordham is led by two all-conference first-team members in Anna DeWolfe and Asiah Dingle. Fordham will face Drexel on Thursday, March 16th in the Rose Hill Gym at 7pm and will be available to stream on ESPN3.

Featured image: Chris Tucci, UMass Athletics