With 2,521 fans filling the lower sections of the Mullins Center for its annual Field Trip Day, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team dropped a critical turnover-plagued game to George Washington, 64-54, snapping its three year Field Trip Day winning streak.
Much to the displeasure of UMass coach Marnie Dacko, the Minutewomen (7-13, 1-4 Atlantic 10) continued a season-long problem by failing to keep possession of the basketball. George Washington (5-14, 2-4 A-10) easily took advantage of the Minutewomen’s mistakes, turning 19 UMass turnovers into 22 points.
“I’m just disappointed with our team, that we’re really minus a heart right now,” Dacko said. “Our perimeter people turning the ball over, post people not making layups, you combine that and we lose to not a great GW team.”
Trailing by 12 with 7:40 remaining, senior Diatiema Hill ignited a quick 10-2 run for UMass with a 3-pointer, which sophomore Nicole Jones followed up with a layup 35 seconds later.
George Washington freshman Megan Nipe hit a layup with 5:30 remaining to give the Colonials a 51-42 lead, but UMass senior Kim Benton responded with a 3-pointer. Jones capped off the run with another layup, cutting the George Washington lead to four with just under three and a half minutes remaining.
However, the run proved to come too late. The Colonials scored the game’s next six points and made seven-of-eight free throws down the stretch to lock up the victory.
UMass led the game through the first seven minutes, leading by as many as four points. Redshirt junior Megan Zullo knocked down two 3-pointers during that span, with Benton also contributing a basket from beyond the arc.
However, at the 10:59 mark, George Washington sophomore Tiana Myers hit a jumper to start a 10-1 run for the Colonials. She later hit a 3-pointer to conclude the run and give her team a 22-17 advantage.
Freshman center Jasmine Watson, after missing five of her first six attempts, combined with fellow freshman Shakia Robinson for 10 points in the half’s final seven minutes to bring UMass back within one. George Washington then responded with a 3-pointer to take a 31-27 advantage heading into the half.
UMass limped into the second half, missing eight of its first nine shots from the field. Watson hit a free throw within the first 40 seconds of the period, bringing the Minutewomen within three.
That is the closest UMass would get the rest of the way. George Washington took advantage of the Minutewomen’s struggles from the field and went on an 11-6 run and stretched its lead to nine points.
Watson led UMass in scoring and rebounding for the third time this season, notching her second career double-double in the process, with 16 points and 10 boards. Jones finished second on the team with 10 points, while grabbing four rebounds and blocking three shots.
Throughout the game, UMass showed spurts of strong defense and forced George Washington into bad shots with the shot clock winding down. However, the Minutewomen could not sustain these spurts long enough to have a lasting impact on the game. Due to UMass’ inconsistency and its collapsing defense, the Colonials found many easy looks in the shot clock’s waning seconds.
The Colonials also did an effective job of shutting down UMass standout Kristina Danella. The sophomore shot 0-of-3 form the field, and made one of her two free throw attempts. She also tallied three turnovers and received the game’s only technical foul.
Nipe led all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting for George Washington. Myers and redshirt freshman Brooke Wilson rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Colonials with 17 and 12 points, respectively. Wilson also tallied six assists and 10 rebounds to give her a double-double, while Myers added four rebounds and five assists.
After the game, the Minutewomen ventured into the crowd of school children to thank the fans and signed autographs before heading into the locker room.
Mike Mastone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.