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Bench providing opportunities for new Minutewomen

Despite the team’s immense struggles on the offensive end, the bench of the Massachusetts women’s basketball team continued to shine last night against Vermont, scoring 22 of the team’s 38 points.

Freshman Jasmine Watson came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with a career-high 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while sinking all four of her free-throws and grabbing four of her nine rebounds on the offensive glass. 

Redshirt junior Megan Zullo finished third on the team with six points and went without a 3-pointer for the first time this season.

With her starters heavily struggling in the first half, UMass coach Marnie Dacko decided to give her bench extra run after halftime. 

Leading-scorer Kristina Danella missed all seven of her field-goal attempts, while senior Diatiema Hill picked up two quick fouls early on.

The UMass bench accounted for 10 of the team’s 15 points and all four of its field goals in the first half.  Watson got off to a hot start, pacing the team with six points on 2-of-4 shooting through the first 20 minutes.

“They’re giving us quality minutes,” Dacko said of her bench players.  “I just don’t think some of our starters were really with it [tonight].  In the past we’ve shared some time with kids. So again, the more time they get in the long haul, by the time we hit mid-season, we’ll be a better team.”

Last night’s game marks the third consecutive match up in which the UMass bench provided at least one double-digit scorer, with the bench contributed 103 of the team’s 189 total points over that span.

The recent increase in production coincides with the improved play of Zullo, the team’s top 3-point shooter. She is the team’s leading bench scorer with an average of 8.4 points per game, and has scored in double-figures four times this season.

Watson’s consistent improvements over the past few weeks have also had an immense impact on the team’s bench production. The center could not consistently find her touch in her first four games, with her 14 point effort against St. John’s marking the only time she scored more than four points over that span.

Aside from Zullo and Watson, Dacko has other players that are capable of steping up and providing a boost when needed.

Although their minutes are scarce, freshman Dee Montgomery and sophomore Emily Teuscher have proven that they possess the ability to provide another spark off the bench when needed.

Against Vermont, Montgomery was the only player aside form Zullo and Watson to contribute off the UMass bench.  With 12:17 remaining in the first half, she diced through the Cattamount defense to score on an off-balance layup.

In 12 minutes against Northeastern, Montgomery posted a career-high 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.  She is shooting a consistent 47-percent from the field, knocking down seven field goals on 15 attempts.

Teuscher’s career-best effort came three days after Montgomery’s.  Against Brown, the guard made all three of her attempts from beyond the arc for nine points.

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

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