September 2, 2014

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Minutewomen adapting to Dawley’s offense

Maria Uminski, Collegian Staff

Despite its winless record, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team has shown that it is adapting to the new offensive system of UMass coach Sharon Dawley.

The Minutewomen, who stand at 0-6 on the season, are averaging 57.5 points per game and are becoming more balanced on their scoring attack.

“We run a high-low offense and we are executing it well because we are getting good shots, we just need to do a better job of hitting those easy open shots,” Dawley said.

Senior guards Megan Zullo, Cerie Mosgrove and sophomore forward Shakia Robinson lead the team in scoring, each averaging over 11 points per game. Zullo, Mosgrove and freshman guard Talen Watson are all threats from beyond the arc.

Watson is perfect from the free-throw line and leads the team with a 0.857 percentage from the perimeter, while the seniors have taken the majority of the shots, going 23-for-59 from beyond the arc.

“The 3-[ball] is critical right now while Jasmine is out, and until she returns and we have a greater presence in the paint we will need to shoot well from the perimeter,” Dawley said. “The problem is that there is a lot of pressure put on the perimeter defensively against us because of our lack of an inside presence.”

Robinson is doing her part in making up for the injured sophomore center Jasmine Watson. The 6-foot-1 forward leads the team with a 0.519 shooting percentage and in rebounds with 41 already on the season. Robinson also leads the team in steals with 13 and is averaging 11.2 points per game.

“I think Shakia gets better every outing,” Dawley said. “She’s becoming more and more comfortable and dropping 30 points against East Carolina is incredible. When Jasmine returns and the two of them can play together I think they will work together as a great inside presence.”

Four of the five starters have been established in Zullo, Mosgrove, Robinson and junior guard Emilie Teuscher. Teuscher is a threat from the perimeter as well and is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging six points a game. The final starting spot has been rotated around between sophomore guard Dee Montgomery, T. Watson and freshman guard Kelly Robinson, each of whom have started twice.

Montgomery has struggled so far this season, as she is last on the team in scoring with 12 points and averaging two points per game in nearly 15 minutes on the floor per game.

While she has not started a game yet, senior forward Stephanie Lawrence has seen the most time on the floor of the bench players with nearly 20 minutes a game. Lawrence is another weapon from the perimeter for the Minutewomen but is mainly contributing on the boards, with 20 this season.

From the guard position, Zullo is distributing the ball well on the hardwood with 26 assists. The biggest concern for this offense is their problem of turning the ball over, already with 126 on the season versus opponents’ 86 turnovers. Zullo leads the team in turnovers with 26 while Robinson has 20 and Mosgrove has given the ball away 16 times.

“It’s tough because when we started practice in the preseason we had that assumption that we would have that big inside presence in Jasmine and now without her we need to rely on the perimeter shot a little more and hope that they can fall,” Dawley said.

Michael Counos can be reached at mcounos@student.umass.edu.

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