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Minutewomen top Quinnipiac in Brown Bear Classic Championship

whoopAPROVIDENCE, R.I. — Diatiema Hill and Megan Zullo both set career-highs in points as the Massachusetts women’s basketball team beat Quinnipiac 82-66 in the championship game of the Brown Bears Classic Tournament in Providence, R.I. over the weekend.

Hill and Zullo finished with 21 and 20 points, respectively, while Hill also added 14 rebounds and six assists in the game to mark her first double-double in four years at UMass. Hill also went a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.

“She does so many good things for our team and it doesn’t always show in the stat line,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said about Hill. “She’s just somebody that gets people open over and over again and comes up with so many great boards at opportune times.”

Hill played well against the Quinnipiac defense, and found comfort in driving and dishing to shooters like Zullo and Kristina Danella. However in Sunday’s game, she also got to the basket and drew fouls against the Bobcats defense.

“Coach has been telling me to be a little bit more selfish,” Hill said after the game. “I know I look for my teammates a lot, but when I see that people can’t stay with me or I have the open gap, I just take it.

In the first half against Quinnipiac, UMass struggled early on but Zullo hit key shots to provide the team a much-needed spark in the waning minutes.

“Coach Dacko has been talking about how [Cerie Mosgrove, Kristina Danella] and I have to always be ready and always confident in our shots,” Zullo said. “When I go in there I’m just ready to shoot, and my teammates went in there and got in the gaps and I put it up. “

The redshirt junior finished 6-of-8 from 3-point range. More importantly, though, Zullo filled in when Danella was struggling to find a rhythm on offense.

Quinnipiac’s Alyssa Jann and Jacki Mann played tough defense against Danella in the first half and frustrated UMass’ primary offensive threat. Mann and Jann used their length and size to hold Danella to 13 points in the game.

The Bobcats’ Mann also held played well on offense. She had eight of her team-leading 16 points in the first half to go along with eight rebounds in the championship game.

UMass took the lead 33-31 over the Bobcats before halftime and exploded with a 49-point second half performance to seal the victory.

In UMass’ first game of the weekend, the team had huge performances from freshman Jasmine Watson and sophomore Danella, and cruised to a 69-54 victory over host Brown.

On defense, Watson was always in position to stop penetration from Brown, and on offense she was able to use her length and skills in the low post. She finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds and was a key in the Minutewomen’s victory.

Danella led the team in scoring with 15 points, and even though she missed her first free throw in 28 attempts, the forward still managed to have a strong offensive game.

The Minutewomen used a team effort to shut down the Brown offense. Christina Johnson, Brown’s leading scorer on the season, was held to one point and the Bears were forced to look elsewhere for offense. Sophomore guard Hannah Passafiume led the Bears with 25 points, including shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point range.

Two Minutewomen set career-highs in the opening game of the Brown Bear Classic. Sophomore Emilie Teuscher had a career-high nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range, and senior Kim Benton pulled down a career-high eight rebounds to lead the team.

Neil Carroll can be reached at nacarrol@student.umass.edu.

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