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May 8, 2017

Rebounding hurts Minutewomen

A strong piece of the Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s game was nowhere to be found on Saturday, when it lost to Dayton, 74-60.

The Minutewomen (9-16, 3-7 Atlantic 10) average 1.5 more rebounds per game than their opponent this season, but were considerably outrebounded by the Flyers (20-5, 8-2 A-10) on Saturday. Dayton totaled 40 rebounds, with 17 coming on the offensive end.

“I think that these guys are very strong,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said. ”They’re one of the toughest rebounding teams in the conference averaging 15 offensive boards a game. We knew that coming in [to the game].”

The Flyers (15.2) rank second in the conference in both offensive rebounds with as well as in rebounding margin, where they have average of 7.2 rebounds per game more than their opponents.

Dayton’s tenacity in the paint was more than UMass could handle.

“[Rebounding] is something that [Dayton] has made a concentrated effort on and that’s something we also have to commit to and learn from,” Dacko said. “We have the ability [to do the same], I think it’s just a mental practice of going in and doing it every day.”

The youth and relative inexperience UMass contains in the frontcourt could explain its struggles on Saturday. The top three rebounders on the team are sophomores Kristina Danella and Nicole Jones, as well as freshman Jasmine Watson. Combined, the trio managed two offensive boards for the game.

3-pointers not essential

UMass leads the A-10 with 160 3-pointers made on the season. Leading the way from beyond the arc is Danella and redshirt junior guard Megan Zullo, who account for 99 of them.

On Saturday, the Minutewomen were accurate from 3-point range, converting on 9-of-21 attempts. However, Dacko believes that anything converted from 3-point land can be considered a bonus.

“Our offense is really designed to get one on one in the post,” she said. “[Nicole Jones], Danella and [Jasmine Watson] – they have to get it inside and take it to people.”

Getting to the line

Another strength UMass possesses is its free throw shooting. As a team, the Minutewomen shoot 75 percent from the line, which is second-best in the conference.

Although UMass converted on 7-of-8 attempts (87.5 percent), the limited appearances at the line did not make enough of a difference in the final outcome. Dacko believes that it is imperative that her team gets to the line more frequently.

“If you’re reluctant shooting [in the post], then you’re not going to get to the foul line,” Dacko said. “But if you get the ball and you’re aggressive with it, then you’re going to get to the line. We have to go at it, grind it out, get to the line and make teams pay.”

Dayton made UMass pay from the charity stripe, who converted on 15 of its 19 free throw attempts.

Overall, Dacko was pleased with her team’s performance against one of the best teams in the A-10.

“If we [always] play with this effort,” she said. “Seven games would be in the win column rather than the loss column.”

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

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