Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Minutewomen to face Spiders in A-10 Tournament

It is not the same game or the same team from mid-January.

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team will play its first game of the A-10 tournament Friday against Richmond. In their only other meeting this year, the Spiders defeated the Minutewomen, 73-62, at the Mullins Center Jan. 16.

UMass head coach Marnie Dacko is confident the upcoming meeting will not play out like the first one.
“We’re a much better team now than we were on Jan. 16 as far as defense and rebounding [are concerned],” Dacko said. “We’re [also] much more comfortable handling the pressure, and we have to be because they have an assortment of presses.”

The two halves of the Jan. 16 game were polar opposites for both teams. In the first half, Richmond (18-11, 7-7 A-10) shot a blistering 69 percent from the field, while hitting 7-of-10 3-point attempts. In the second half, it shot 23 percent while hitting three of 13 3-point attempts.

UMass’ poor first half was balanced out in the second, when it shot 59 percent from the field and hit 4-of-7 3-point attempts. However, the second-half surge was not enough for the Minutewomen (11-18, 5-9 A-10).

“They shot seven of 10 from three [range],” Dacko said. “We played man defense and zone defense and it didn’t matter. I watched [a lot] of Richmond’s film and they’ve never had a better half.”

The Minutewomen would prefer to worry about things they can control, like containing junior guard Brittani Shells, who has started all but one game in her collegiate career and currently leads the conference in scoring, with an average of 17 points per game. On Jan. 16, Shells led all scorers with 22 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and three steals.

“We know what we have to do against Richmond. We have to put a great deal of pressure on Brittani Shells,” Dacko said. “She had 22 against us and is one of the top scorers in the league.”

Aside from defending Shells, UMass must execute in other aspects if it wants to repeat its second-half performance, when it outscored the Spiders, 33-29.

One area that does not bode well for UMass is turnovers. The Minutewomen have the worst turnover margin in the conference, averaging 5.1 more turnovers than their opponents. Richmond, on the other hand, owns the best turnover margin in the league, averaging 5.2 less turnovers than their opponents. If that trend plays out, UMass would have ten more turnovers than Richmond,.

UMass enters the game with the clear advantage inside, and will continue to look to centers Jasmine Watson and Nicole Jones to show up on the stat sheet with points, rebounds and blocks. The duo have been solid defensively, with 75 combined blocks.

“I think our big players really have to step up and take some pressure off the perimeter players. Our bigs are playing really well,” Dacko said. “We really have to utilize Nikki and Jaz inside, and then we really have to step it up with ball movement along the perimeter. I think we have a balanced attack now and we’re a better team. We’re looking for good team basketball.”

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

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