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January 13, 2017

Minutewomen fall short to Duquesne

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to send the ballgame to overtime, but could not complete the comeback and fell on the road to Duquesne, 63-54, in Atlantic 10 play.

Samantha Pollino led the Dukes in scoring and rebounds with 18 points and 11 boards, but was outplayed by her teammate Rachel Frederick in overtime. Frederick sparked Duquesne with five points and three rebounds in overtime including clutch free-throws.

Stephanie Lawrence’s 3-point shot in the corner with 2 minutes, 6 seconds left in the second half evened up the game at 51, and neither team scored for the rest of regulation.

The Minutewomen had finally brought back a rally in the second half, but like the games against Maine and Rhode Island, lost the game at the free-throw line. Down the stretch, the UMass forwards could not convert from the charity stripe and UMass shot 9-of-14 for the game.

“We had opportunities in regulation to knock down some buckets and we didn’t shoot well from the foul line,” Coach Dacko said. “We got to the foul line and just could not finish.”

UMass’ leading scorer Kristina Danella had 18 points on 5-of-6 three-point shooting, but again was not at full strength. The sophomore was held out of the starting lineup as head coach Marnie Dacko chose to start Kim Benton, Diatiema Hill, Megan Zullo, Jasmine Watson, and Lawrence for the second straight game.

Although UMass primarily used a lineup with both Watson and Nicole Jones in, the team was still out-rebounded 51-40 in the contest.

“We gave up too many offensive rebounds” Dacko said. “We had an opportunity to win in regulation but we were playing with two bigs and we are not as comfortable playing with that, but it was our best defensive unit, and we played without a point guard.”

The team was also without captain Kim Benton who was held out of the second half because of a stomach virus. Hill struggled playing the true point guard position for UMass but still played tough. The senior had 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal in the game.

The overtime period started out at a back-and-forth pace, as Watson hit a layup early. Duquesne, though, fired back with a three, and then on the next possession UMass tied it up on a free-throw shot by Watson. However, after a minute without any points from either side, the Dukes went on a 9-0 run to finish overtime.

UMass was inconsistent from three-point range, which is usually strength for this year’s team. Zullo and Cerie Mosgrove were a combined 1-of-8 from that distance, but Danella found success.

This marks UMass’ first loss in overtime this season in the team’s third game. The loss also drops the Minutewomen to 7-12 overall and 1-3 in the A-10. On the other hand, the Dukes improve to 14-5 on the season, and places them atop the A-10 standings with a 4-0 start.

“We lost to a team that is lucky because they have had three other overtime games to gain experience in. We defended extremely well but the shots weren’t dropping,” Dacko said of the positives her team can extract from the loss.

Duquesne’s Alex Gensler finished the game second in scoring for her team with 14 points on 3-of-8 shooting from three-point range, but the forward also dished out five assists.

In the road game, UMass turned the ball over 19 times, most of those coming off of entry passes into the low post. The Minutewomen will try to recover next Wednesday at home against George Washington.

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

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