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Turnovers have plagued Minutewomen throughout season

whoopBAn undesirable statistic has haunted the Massachusetts women’s basketball team all season: turnover ratio.

The Minutewomen, who finished non-conference play at 6-9, have the worst turnover ratio in the Atlantic 10.

UMass’ strengths this year have been rebounding and getting to the line, where it converts 77 percent of the time, good for second-best in the conference. UMass averages 38.4 rebounds per game and limits opponents to 35.2 rebounds per game, good for fourth-best and fifth-best, respectively. However, UMass’ weakness in turnovers frequently out-does its strengths, a problem coach Marnie Dacko cannot ignore.

“[Limiting turnovers] is critical to your success, it’s critical to your possessions,” Dacko said. “You work hard to outrebound teams, and when you have the ball and lose it, you automatically give it to your opponent and give them more opportunities to score.”

UMass has committed 331 turnovers to opponents’ 233, a margin of -5.76 per game. The top three teams in this category are Richmond (+4.50), Temple (+2.81) and Duquesne (+2.12). Consequently, these teams are experiencing great success this year. Richmond finished non-conference play at 12-4, Temple at 11-5 and Duquesne at 12-5.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been consistent at turning the ball over,” Dacko said. “But it’s also different people at different times. It seems to kill us because when we turn the ball over it [constantly] leads to opponent points instead of them having to go 94 feet and beat our defense. When we’re rebounding more than other teams, shooting fairly well from the floor and getting to the foul line, the turnovers negate all those good things.”

On Jan. 9, UMass hosted Rhode Island to open its conference schedule. UMass committed 24 turnovers to Rhode Island’s 14 and lost the game, 58-57. Impact players Jasmine Watson, Kristina Danella and Nicole Jones accounted for 18 of the turnovers, registering six apiece.

Turnovers are being committed all over the floor, from all different positions.

“Our post players are moving their feet, they’re not focused,” Dacko said. “The perimeter players are lacking discipline. Attention to detail is missing. We’ve got to be a lot more consistent in executing our offense … and that doesn’t take a lot of skill. It takes effort and concentration. Staying in the moment and not getting ahead of ourselves has been a problem.”

UMass edged out a 62-59 win against Saint Louis; still, turnovers were an issue, as the Minutewomen committed 18, four more than the Billikens. If not for forward Diatiema Hill’s brilliant performance, UMass could have endured a different fate. Hill scored 26 points, while registering 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

UMass’ strength lies within its bigger players at the forward and center positions. These players frequently score and deliver defensive stops. The relative ineffectiveness of the Minutewomen guards is creating more turnovers, as well as putting additional strain on the veteran guard, Kim Benton.

“We’re not giving our point guard [Benton] enough rest,” Dacko said. “Having Dee Montgomery out there has really been a struggle for us. Having a distributor and a point guard that can dish the ball out well is critical to your offense.”

UMass’ next two games come against Richmond and Duquesne, which are in the top three in turnover ratio in the conference. Combining UMass’ lowly ratio to these teams’ high ratios could show the great effects turnovers have on the game.

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

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