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Day 3 of the Cancun Challenge for UMass

The Massachusetts Minutewomen (1-7, 0-0 A-10) lost to the RV Maryland Terrapins (4-3, 0-0 Big 10) 92-63 on Saturday morning and the third and final day of the Cancun Challenge. This puts the Terrapins in the 3-0 lead in the all-time series history matchup.

The Minutewomen had struggled in certain stretches of the game on Saturday. Whether it was a scoring drought, turnovers, or foul trouble getting in the way, it did not deter UMass from trying to get back in the game. The third quarter in Saturday’s game was where they shined the most. Even though the Minutewomen were outscored 28-27 in the quarter alone, this is where most of their points came from. Foul trouble did impact players as Stefanie Kulesza and Dallas Pierce both fouled out of the game, and Tori Hyduke and Bre Bellamy had 4 fouls apiece at the end of the game. The Minutewomen also did not have great control of the ball turning it over 28 times.

UMass had three players in double digits for the game. Lilly Taulelei and Kristin Williams both scored 14 points apiece in the game. Taulelei earned her first career in double digits, and also her career high against Maryland. Bellamy had 10 points to round out the scorers in double digits. Lilly Ferguson posted a new career-high of 8 points, Kulesza and Pierce both had 7 points, and Hyduke had 3 points.

Cancun Challenge Recap as a Whole:

UMass walks away with a 1-7 record going 0-3 during the Cancun Challenge. All three of these teams are NCAA tournament-caliber teams in the high and mid-majors of Division I basketball. The season is still young for the Minutewomen, and all hope is not lost on this squad. Being able to play three games in three days for any team can be difficult, but when a team has only seven to eight players available well that is where they have to dig deep.

Several Minutewomen had career highs while in Cancun. Kulesza picked up her career high with 20 points against Washington State on Friday. Kulesza also was named to the Cancun Challenge All-Tournament team. Taulelei had a career-high of 14 points and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes against Maryland. Pierce had career highs of 7 points twice during the Cancun Challenge (against RV Maryland and Washington State) and 25 minutes against Green Bay on Thursday. Hyduke had a career-high of 7 assists against Green Bay on Thursday. Ferguson had career highs of 8 points and 5 rebounds in 36 minutes of play against RV Maryland.

“I was encouraged by moments in our Washington State game and by moments in our Maryland game,” Coach Mike Leflar said. “I think we have to do some soul-searching individually and understand how we can improve. I feel we learned a lot about our team in these three games.”

Injury Updates:

The injury bug hit the Minutewomen hard to start the season with four players not being able to play due to injuries that occurred before or during the preseason, which left UMass with eight available players. The good news for UMass fans is that we saw Chinenye Odenigbo, Avery Childers, and Alexsia Rose all suit up for at least one of the three games in Cancun. While none of them played in any of the games it is a great thing to see for UMass that players are getting healthy and are close to returning to play. “We are hoping to get them back into practice this week,” Coach Leflar commented on their timelines. “[It will be a] game-time decision with regards to availability for Friday.”

On Thursday, Jermany Mapp went down hard in the fourth quarter against Green Bay when she had a shoulder subluxation occur in her right shoulder. “She has done that in the past a couple of times, and she has responded well to the treatment,” Coach Leflar stated about Mapp’s status. “I am not sure, but I think she has a similar timeline.”

Mikenzie Jones has not been suited up for any games yet this season, but should hopefully be returning soon for the Minutewomen. It is currently unclear on the timeline for her return. She could be a game-time decision on Friday, but we do not know the extent of her injury at this time.

UMass will not have Allie Palmieri this season as she is a two-time transfer from Seton Hall and Boston College. Palmieri will have two years of eligibility left when she plays next season. 

Looking Ahead:

UMass will return to Amherst until Friday, December 1st when the Minutewomen will take on the Yale Bulldogs (0-6, 0-0 Ivy League) at 7pm in New Haven, Connecticut. This will be these two teams’ eighth time meeting, and Yale has a 4-3 lead in the all-time series history. The game will be available to watch on ESPN+ and to listen to via WMUA Sports.

Featured Image: Riley Ubben, UMass Athletics

Kaily “KG” Godek is a current student at Western New England University (WNE). She has been a supporter of UMass Athletics for over 15 years. Kaily focuses on both UMass Basketball teams and occasionally on the other Women’s Basketball teams in the conference. While writing for A10 Talk, she works in the athletic department at WNE. When she graduates from WNE she wants to go into Sports Broadcasting and Journalism. You can follow Kaily on X, formerly known as Twitter, @kgumass23.