Minutewomen thriving at free-throw line
Although the Massachusetts women’s basketball team has trouble finding a rhythm offensively, the team continues to be extremely effective and consistent from the free-throw line.
UMass (7-11, 1-2 Atlantic 10) enters tonight’s match-up at Duquesne, ranked 10th in the nation in free throw percentage, (76.5). That mark also places them second in the A-10 behind St. Bonaventure (79.1 percent). Through 18 games, the Minutewomen converted a conference high 290 free throws on 379 attempts.
The team’s success at the charity stripe is led by sophomore Kristina Danella and senior Diatiema Hill, who rank second and third in the conference, respectively. Danella (87.9 percent) leads UMass in free-throw percentage, going 80-for-91.
However, Hill, who held a slight advantage over Danella entering the week, narrowly trails her teammate (87.8 percent) from the line.
This season, both Danella and Hill tied the UMass single-game record for free throw percentage in a game (with a minimum of 10 attempts) by going perfect from the line. Against Rice, Danella sank all 12 of her free throws, while Hill went 11-of-11 four games later against Quinnipiac.
Although they have fewer attempts, other UMass players are displaying the same consistency and taking advantage of their chances at the line. Nine of the 12 players on the roster are shooting 70 percent or better on their free throws, with five shooting over 80 percent.
Senior Kim Benton’s accuracy at the free-throw line is much improved from last season. After shooting 66.7 percent as a junior, the guard has successfully converted all 20 of her attempts this season.
Junior Cerie Mosgrove and redshirt junior Megan Zullo enter the game against the Dukes (13-5, 3-0 A-10) with 15 attempts apiece, with Mosgrove (80 percent) capitalizing on 12 and Zullo on 13 (86.7 percent).
Freshman center Jasmine Watson and junior Stephanie Lawrence round out those shooting over 70 percent. Watson is shooting 73 percent from the line, while Lawrence converted 20 of her 28 attempts.
Despite getting to the line more often than any player on the team, aside from Danella, sophomore Nicole Jones continues to struggle with her free throws with 53 percent shooting.
Watson named A-10 Rookie of the Week
After averaging 17.5 points per game and seven rebounds over a two game span, Jasmine Watson earned A-10 Rookie of the Week honors.
The South Bend, Ind. native set career highs, scoring in consecutive games against Saint Louis and Richmond. She led UMass to a 62-59 victory over the Billikens (7-11, 1-2 A-10) by tallying 16 points, six rebounds and two blocks. She followed that up with a 19-point effort against the Spiders (13-4, 2-0 A-10), where she also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and chipped in one block.
The loss to Richmond marked the second time this season Watson led the team in scoring, with the other being a 14-point outing against Vermont. It also marked the fourth time she led the team in rebounding.
For the week, Watson made 14-of-25 field goal attempts, converted all seven of her free throw attempts, and chipped in two assists and a steal. She is third on the Minutewomen in points (9.1) and rebounds (5.5) while leading the team with 23 blocks. Her block total places her fourth in the A-10, while she is sixth with 1.3 blocks per game.
Watson is the first member of the Minutewomen to earn A-10 accolades this season.
Mike Mastone can be reached at email@example.com.