Minutewomen win in overtime against Boston University
Coach Marnie Dacko believed her team would surprise a lot of people this season. So far, she’s right.
On Sunday, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team welcomed Boston University to the Mullins Center for UMass’ season opener. The Terriers, who finished last season 25-8, were dispatched by the Minutewomen in overtime, 79-73.
UMass found itself behind on the scoreboard throughout most of the game, but came back to tie the game at the very end of regulation, sending the game into overtime.
Down by three with 17 seconds left on the clock, sophomore forward Kristina Danella took an off-balanced shot from beyond the arc. Fortunately for the Minutewomen, Danella was fouled on the play, and headed to the line for three free throws and a chance to tie the game.
“I wasn’t shooting too well from the line throughout the game,” Danella said. “I was definitely trying to take it one at a time [at that point].”
Danella hit all three. With the shot-clock turned off, BU failed to take the lead after two high-percentage shots in the paint did not fall.
“Danella stepping up and making those three free throws gave us the momentum. Our players were fired up going into overtime,” Dacko said.
Consequently, the Minutewomen came out firing on all cylinders in overtime, where they took advantage of various BU turnovers and hit shots both from the field and the line. The overtime period represented the only time in the game where UMass dictated play, outscoring BU, 12-6, en route to its first victory.
Throughout the game, UMass consistently clawed back from seven points down to three points down, but could not seem to close the small margin until the last few ticks.
“We didn’t play particularly well,” senior guard Kim Benton said. “We stuck together though, got it to go to overtime, and won. It really built on our confidence so we’re ready to go going into our next game.”
The turning point of the game was when BU’s freshman guard, Caitlynn Moran, fouled out. Going into overtime, Moran had 20 points, most of which served to stifle any UMass comeback. She also already had four fouls, though, and the Minutewomen knew that one more would put her on the bench.
“I told Diatiema [Hill] to go at her because she was hurting us,” Benton said. “Once she fouled out, we knew that was the game for us.”
Sophomore center Nicole Jones nearly registered a double-double for the Minutewomen, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds. The biggest impact she provided, however, was in the blocks and steals categories, where she added three and four, respectively.
“I need to stay positive and keep myself up so my teammates can feed off my energy,” Jones said. “This is a great start for the rest of the season. Hopefully it will set a good tempo [for the games to come].”
One concern Dacko had coming into the game was how her team would defend BU’s bigger players in the paint. Terrier forward Aly Hinton, a dominant force in the paint as well as from beyond the arc, was kept to a relatively low 13 points.
“She’s a 3-point threat and she displaces us inside,” Dacko said of Hinton. “We’re lean and long but we don’t have the girth. That was a fear coming in was how we were going to defend her.”
Fortunately for UMass, BU could not take advantage of various opportunities to put the game out of reach. Instead, the Minutewomen kept the game within striking distance and grinded their way into overtime.
“I’m happy for our players. They played so hard together [in practice], they were tired of seeing each other and they couldn’t wait for the first game,” Dacko said.
Steve Levine can be reached at email@example.com.