Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey competes hard, falls to No. 10 Providence College in overtime -

February 26, 2017

Overtime goal hands UMass hockey its 15th straight loss in regular season finale -

February 26, 2017

Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous gives talk at UMass -

February 25, 2017

Anti-racism workshop teaches tactics to fight oppression in community -

February 25, 2017

Providence power play haunts UMass hockey in 6-2 loss -

February 25, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 10 Providence on Senior Night at the Mullins center -

February 25, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen open Miami Thanksgiving Tournament with Rice

whoopCFresh off a victory over a strong Villanova squad, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team will travel to Florida and try for its second consecutive victory in an attempt to jump over the .500-mark as it takes on Rice in the first round of the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament.

The Minutewomen (2-2) defeated Villanova 55-47 on Sunday in their best defensive performance of the season. The defense, which held Villanova to 28.3-percent shooting from the field, has steadily improved in each of the past two games. UMass coach Marnie Dacko hopes the team can bring the same intensity to the court on Friday.

“We defended well and took care of the ball,” Dacko said. “We limited turnovers and played solidly as a team… [and] made Villanova play defense. We were able to slow the pace and play in-and-out.”

However, Dacko also cited two weaknesses that have plagued UMass. In their first four games, the Minutewomen have been outrebounded 66-to-44 on the offensive end. Those rebounds have, in turn, helped create 47 second-chance points for their opponents.

“The big thing we need for success is that we [have] to limit second-chance opportunities for the opponent,” Dacko said. “We can’t give teams second chances. We have to work on rebounding and how to defend and use screens.”

As Dacko pointed out, the team’s inability to consistently defend a screen has also been a problem. At times, opponents have been able to carve the UMass zone defense at will with screens and inside-to-outside passing. This can lead to open looks on the perimeter and enables players to make moves in the paint.

On the offensive end, UMass has continued to showcase a balanced attack. The Minutewomen have had a different leading scorer in each of the past three games with a slew of players making sizable contributions.

Sophomore Kristina Danella has been the team’s most consistent offensive presence thus far. She opened the season with a 21-point effort against Boston University, and leads the team with 14.5 points per-game and six rebounds per-game. Fellow sophomore Nicole Jones is second with 10 points per game, and is tied with Danella in rebounds.

“Our big thing is that we have to rebound and get the ball inside,” Dacko said of the team’s offense.

Through their first four games, the Minutewomen have amassed 92 of their 243 total points in the paint. Jones and freshman center Jasmine Watson have both proven that they can be threats in the post.

In the second game of her collegiate career, Watson posted 14 points against St. John’s on five-of-10 shooting, while Jones was a deciding factor in Sunday’s win over Villanova with career highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Awaiting the Minutewomen is a 0-3 Rice squad (prior to Tuesday night’s game) that has gotten off to a rocky start in the early goings this season. The Owls have struggled mightily on the defensive end. They have allowed at least 80 points in each of their first three games, finishing each match up with an average deficit of 21 points.

After a 30-point blowout at the hands of No. 11 Texas A&M, Rice responded with its strongest offensive effort of the season. Last Saturday, the Owls poured in 82 points in a 10-point loss to Stephen F. Austin and hauled in 54 rebounds, with both totals beating the team’s previous highs.

Entering last night’s home-game versus Arkansas-Little Rock, sophomore Jackie Stanley led Rice in scoring with an average of 11 points per game. The forward is also second on the team with 4.3 rebounds per-game, trailing only junior forward Morgan Mayse (4.7). Mayse is also third on the team in scoring with an average of 7.3 points per game.

The freshmen duo of guard Jessica Goswitz and forward Lacey Neu has also consistently contributed to the Rice offense. Prior to last night’s game, they were tied for second on the team in scoring with 8.7 points per game. Neu also averages three rebounds per contest, while Goswitz has been solid defensively with two three-steal performances.

UMass and Rice will open the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday, with tip-off set for 5 p.m. at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, FL.

Mike Mastone can be reached at mmastone@student.umass.edu.

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