KINGSTON, R.I. – With sophomore Kristina Danella back at full strength, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team regained its swagger after a 71-61 victory over Rhode Island on Saturday. The game gave the team its second win in conference play.
“I just think it was a whole team effort today,” Danella said. “I think we played 40 minutes of basketball, and that’s what we’ve been looking for all year long.”
Danella, who had been rehabbing a sprained ankle over the last four games, was finally at her best again. The guard once again led the Minutewomen in scoring with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field.
UMass (8-13, 2-4 Atlantic 10) was up 17 points at half, and saw its lead balloon to 23 points with five minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the game. The Minutewomen controlled the game and eased to a 10-point win.
“I think the team did a good job today,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said of the performance. “But midway through the second half the kids got a little lax.”
UMass held URI’s Megan Shoniker to 16 points in the contest. Shoniker came into the game leading the Rams (9-13, 2-5 A-10) in scoring, but Lindsay Harris outdid her for the honors by netting 20 points to go along with her 14 rebounds in the loss.
“The difference between this game and all the other losses was simply that we put the ball in the basket,” Dacko said. “I think overall the defense remained the same, our rebounding stayed the same, we limited our turnovers by a few, but this is the way we shoot at practice and it’s nice to see the kids have that translate to Rhode Island.”
While Danella led the Minutewomen in scoring, Megan Zullo followed her with 13 points and six rebounds. Zullo, who was 4-of-15 shooting 3-pointers in the last two games, went off on the Rams by hitting 3-of-5 beyond the arc in the win.
UMass edged out the Rams in points off of turnovers, 19-10, in the game. The Minutewomen also played good defense, and won the turnover battle 19-12 against URI.
URI’s talented freshman backcourt of Ashley Rivera and Anisha Wilson were held to 10 points. The Minutewomen locked up Rivera around the perimeter, and backed off of Wilson because of her poor shooting coming into the game.
UMass’ Diatiema Hill contributed in all categories, as the senior had nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal. Kim Benton, another senior for the Minutewomen, had five points and two steals. She remained perfect from the line on the season after hitting two free-throws in the game, bringing her total to 22-of-22 on the year.
Cerie Mosgrove helped UMass by shooting 2-of-5 from beyond the arc, finishing with six points. The Minutewomen were in need of solid shooting from 3-point range early on in the game because of a lack of offensive presence down low. Jasmine Watson and Nicole Jones both had four fouls against them and were hesitant of fouling out for most of the second half.
Watson finished with four points and six rebounds, while Jones had nine points and one rebound. UMass was more focused on the defensive end, keeping URI forward Lara Gaspar to nine points on the night.
This marked UMass’ second win in A-10 play and notched yet another road win for the Minutewomen this season. The team now has had six of its eight wins on the road.
“I don’t have an explanation for [the road wins],” Dacko said. “The bottom line is that it came down to us taking shots and making shots.”
Neil Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.