The abundant youth on the Massachusetts women’s basketball team has been the story from the start of the season.
However, that will not be the case tonight as UMass will honor two of its most important players as they play their last games at the Mullins Center – seniors Diatiema Hill and Kim Benton.
Hill saw considerable action coming off the bench in her freshman year, helping her team to a 17-17 overall record and a sixth place finish in the Atlantic 10.
Hill was forced to undergo season-ending surgery the following year, allowing her to become a redshirt sophomore in 2008-2009, when she started 29-of-30 games.
Although she averaged 5.3 points per game as a redshirt sophomore, Hill was never known for her scoring touch. It was the other parts of her game that shined through, allowing her to become a fixture in the Minutewomen lineup night after night.
Hill posted career-highs in points with 158, rebounds with 111, assists with 87 and steals with 30 last year. Altogether, the statistics came together to illuminate an all-around player who averaged 5.3 points per game, 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and one steal.
It was Hill’s overall ability that earned her another starting spot in the lineup this season, where she continues to impress.
Hill has started all 27 games thus far, averaging 34 minutes per game to go with 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals. She has helped UMass achieve elite status at the free throw line as well, shooting 86.2 percent from the charity stripe.
Her best game this season came against Saint Louis on Jan. 13, when she led the Minutewomen to victory by scoring a career-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Kim Benton will also be honored during Senior Night.
She made her debut for UMass on Nov. 10, 2006 against Vermont. She made her presence known immediately, registering seven points and two assists in 12 minutes off the bench. She also hit her first two 3-pointers, a facet of her game that currently resides in the Minutewomen record books.
Benton finished her freshman season in good form, averaging six points per game, along with 1.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.8 steals.
As a sophomore in the 2007-2008 season, Benton played in all 30 games for the Minutewomen, starting 16.
It wasn’t until the following season when Benton’s presence would truly be felt. As a junior in 2008-09, she started the first eight games of the season and then played considerable minutes off the bench. She finished the season with an average of 4.2 points per game, 1.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
This season, Benton is the team’s primary point guard. She is having a career year, averaging 3.8 points per game, 2.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and one steal.
Her best game came on opening night, when UMass upset Boston University in overtime at the Mullins Center. Benton registered 18 points, two rebounds, three assists and three steals in the match.
Benton is cemented in the UMass record books in three 3-point categories including: fifth most in a single season (50) in 2006-07, fourth in career 3-point field goals made (102) and 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (.309)
Steve Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.