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December 30, 2016

UMass falls to Catamounts at home

A strong freshman performance was wasted on Wednesday night, when the Massachusetts women’s basketball team could not find answers against Vermont, falling 57-38.

Freshman center Jasmine Watson had the best game of her collegiate career, recording career highs in points and rebounds with 14 and nine, respectively. She was UMass’ only consistent player on the night, hitting 5-of-11 shots from the field while adding one of the Minutewomen’s three blocks.

Watson’s effort went by the wayside, though, as UMass looked sloppy from the start. The first twenty minutes added up to a 12 point deficit for the Minutewomen, who shot poorly from the floor. Out of 18 shots, the Minutewomen converted four (22.2 percent), while missing all five three-point attempts. The Catamounts, who turned the ball over three times in the first half, scored eight points off of UMass’ 13 turnovers.

The few bright spots in the first came from the free throw line and on the glass. UMass continued its effective shooting at the charity stripe, converting on seven of eight attempts. They also out-rebounded Vermont, 19-11. These UMass’ successes were not enough to overcome its blunders, though, and went to the locker room down, 27-15.

The first seconds of the second half delivered a glimpse of hope for the Minutewomen, when sophomore forward Nicole Jones completed a three-point play to cut the deficit to nine. UMass quickly fell back into its first half form, however, and would fail to take a lead throughout the remainder of the game.

“I’m really disappointed,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said. “We were coming off a weekend with us really executing well. Our defense was good, but our offense wasn’t executing, as we were mishandling the ball. Those are things we’ve been working on, so that disappoints me.”

UMass added 10 turnovers in the second half, which led to 10 points for Vermont, with some help coming via the Minutewomen’s three shot clock violations.

“Our inability to be aware of the time on the clock is inexcusable,” Dacko said. “We knew they were going to be physical with us. They disrupted what we like to do, and we couldn’t stay with it.”

Much of Vermont’s successes came from their starting lineup, which boasted four seniors, while UMass used a much younger team which relied on bench points to keep them in the game.

“They have a seasoned team with four senior starters,” Dacko said. “They’ve played together for four years. That being said, we were able to get the ball inside when we struggled on the perimeter. The post [players] had to step up, but I thought Jasmine did a good job.”

Watson shot close to 50 percent from the field, far better than any of her teammates, while UMass finished the game at 25 percent shooting.

“It comes down to us not being able to put the ball in the bucket,” Dacko said. “We were unable to set good screens and free up players for good shots. They were also being physical with us and the officials let us play. If the officials are going to let you play, then we have to step up and play that game.”

UMass returns to action on Friday, when it hosts Providence at the Mullins Center at 6 p.m.

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

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