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

Free throws crucial to Minutewomen’s success.

In the game of basketball, sometimes free throws are overlooked.

That has not been the case for Massachusetts women’s basketball team lately, which now owns the best free throw percentage in the Atlantic 10, at 78.9 percent.

Leading the way for the Minutewomen at the line is sophomore forward Kristina Danella, who has not missed a free throw in her last 27 opportunities.

“She’s just a tremendous shooter,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said. “I’m just happy that she’s getting fouled.”

Last Friday against Rice, Danella led all scorers with 21 points (12 free throws). Her perfect free throw percentage matched a program single game record, last set by Melissa Gurile who made all 15 shots against Providence in 1993. UMass finished the game hitting 22-of-23 from the charity stripe (95.7 percent), the best mark of any team in the A-10 this season.

“It’s huge,” Dacko said. “So much of our offense is dictated by getting to the hoop and getting fouled. “It’s not good if we get to the bucket, get fouled and don’t hit free throws.”

The Minutewomen rely on their post players to get inside and get to the basket, increasing their chances of getting fouled along the way. Although free throws are a large part of UMass’ game, it would be impractical to spend a lot of time on it during practice.

“Right now I’m just focused on players getting to the line and making shots,” she said. “Our short term goals are dictated game by game. We definitely want to outrebound opponents and get to the foul line. Most of our emphasis is on defense and how it should create our offense. We don’t put a lot of emphasis on free throw shooting because when our players get to the line they know they have to make the shots.”

Right now, Danella ranks fourth in the A-10 with an 89.4 percent free throw percentage. Her streak of 27 straight free-throws is the longest by a Minutewomen since Kathy Coyner converted 31 straight in 1998.

“I want more of our post players getting to the bucket and getting fouled more so they can get to the line,” Dacko said. “I just hope [Danella] is contagious so everyone else can step up to the line and knock them down like she does.”

The best example of Danella’s timely shooting came in the season opener against Boston University. She went to the line after getting fouled from 3-point range with 17 seconds in the game and tied the game. UMass eventually won, 79-73.

Free throw shooting comes down to the individual player. It is the most independent aspect of the team sport. For the most part, Dacko’s players are on their own when it comes to foul shooting.

“The kids know what they have to do,” Dacko said. “It’s such a mental preparation and they have to get in their own routine. What we preach is that [practicing free throws] is up to them. If kids are having problems with it then we’ll force their hand and have them practice it a little more but for the most part, they work a lot on it themselves.”

Steve Levine can be reached at slevine@student.umass.edu.

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