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May 14, 2016

Winless Minutewomen take on Brown at home on Wednesday

Maria Uminski, Collegian Staff

After going through a grueling five-game road trip, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team is looking to pick up its first win on the year at home against Brown on Wednesday night.

The Minutewomen (0-6) have traveled up and down the East Coast over the past few weeks, trying to find their rhythm and how to best work with their strengths and weaknesses.

So far, they have found that slow starts can heavily deter second half bursts.

In five of six starts on the season, UMass has trailed at the end of the first half, with four of those five first half deficits being in double digits. A large factor to the lack of scoring in the first half, according to UMass coach Sharon Dawley, is the team’s inconsistent ability to drain routine shots.

“We need to do a better job of making our easy shots,” Dawley said. “We are getting great opportunities; we just need to finish them.”

Overall in the first half, the Maroon and White have been outscored 203-146, compared to being outscored 231-199 in the second half.

The Minutewomen have been much better in second-half play, as they have seen their offense spark to life to make strong comebacks possible.

Barring its games against Providence and Maryland, UMass has been making strong runs to keep themselves in games, shooting as well as 57.1 percent from the field, as it did in its game against the Pirtates.

A large part of their scoring abilities in the second half and in games overall can be attributed to the ability to sink shots from behind the arc.

“The 3-ball is critical right now to our offense,” Dawley said. “Without a big inside presence right now, we need to be strong at the arc and we are.”

Based on Dawley’s comments, the Minutewomen are going to need to both keep their 3-point shooters strong and develop their inside presence if they want to win against Brown.

The Bears (2-4) have been a strong team thus far in the season. Their first three losses on the season have been by 10 points or fewer, and their defense has limited opposing offenses from making large runs.

However, in their last game against the University of Maryland-Batimore County in the Iona Thanksgiving Tournament, the Bears could not get their gears in motion well enough to go down the stretch against the Retrievers, as they saw their losing streak grow to two games.

Wednesday night’s game at the Mullins Center will also mark the Bears’ sixth road game on the season thus far, a feeling that the Minutewomen can relate to.

With that being said, UMass will be looking to make good headway against Brown, especially in the form of its key players.

Both Megan Zullo and Cerie Mosgrove have started in all six games for UMass this season and have scored an average of 11.3 points per game, while combining for 426 minutes of playing time. Zullo is the better of the two in the 3-point game with a .406 completion percentage, while Mosgrove is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game. The two seniors have been critical in the team’s offensive development.

Shakia Robinson has certainly been making her mark for UMass this season, as she has also started all six games while racking up a 32.3 minutes per game on average. Robinson has been deadly in the inside game with a .519 field-goal percentage, an 11.2 points per game average and has shown great maturity and leadership in just her second season.

David Martin can be reached at dmmartin@student.umass.edu.

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