The Massachusetts women’s basketball team, led by tight defense and the scoring efforts of senior guard Megan Zullo, won its first game of the season against Boston University, 55-49, at the Mullins Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Minutewomen (1-0) competed fiercely against the Terriers (1-1) by successfully shutting down their top offensive players, especially from beyond the arc, and by making the most of their offensive drives and scoring opportunities.
“We definitely shut down their big three [players],” said UMass coach Sharon Dawley, who is entering her second season as coach. “[Chantell] Alford is phenomenal, we know her pretty well, and [senior guard] Emilie [Teuscher] was amazing on her today, holding her to just 2-for-15. She never allowed [Alford] to get into her flow.
“[Mo] Moran is also right up there for a phenomenal player, and [Carolann Cloutier] did a very good job defending her, holding her to 2-for-12 and 0-for-4 from [3-point range],” continued Dawley. “And Alex Young, being the third of the three, went only 1-for-5 from [3-point range] and 5-for-15 was key, and that was [thanks to] Megan, who was primarily on her all day. But those ‘Big Three’ can just light it up, they are incredibly talented … but at the end of the day we came away with the win.”
Offensively, the Terriers were held to just 20-for-71 from the field and shot an anemic 3-for-17 from 3-point range. Surprisingly, of its three treys, BU only completed one in the first 30 minutes of play. The Terriers also finished 6-for-14 from the free-throw line and tallied five blocks, seven steals and 42 total rebounds.
For BU, sophomore forward Rashidat Agboola was the only player to find any considerable offensive success, as she led the Terriers with 21 points by completing 9-for-16 in the paint and 3-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Down the opposite end of the court, UMass saw multiple players contribute in big ways offensively throughout the game. Zullo shot confidently from the perimeter, with 15 of her 17 points coming off a 5-for-7 performance from beyond the arc. Junior forward Shakia Robinson shot 8-for-16 in the paint and went 6-for-11 from the line for a team-best 22 points, while Teuscher went 2-for-3 on treys.
In all, the Minutewomen shot 19-for-56 from the field, 7-for-15 on treys and 10-for-15 at the charity stripe. UMass also registered 17 assists, six blocks, a steal and 50 rebounds, of which 41 were on the defensive end.
Early on, the Minutewomen jumped out to a 9-0 run and led 12-2 at the start of the match, though BU would battle back by the end of the first half to cut its deficit to just six with a score of 26-20. In the first part of the second half, UMass again took a double-digit lead to make it 36-24, and later, 43-32. Again, though, the Terriers battled back and eventually tied the game 48-48 with just over two minutes remaining.
The Minutewomen would not yield, however, as they finished the game with an 8-1 run that frustrated a normally clutch BU offense. With the victory, UMass demonstrated that it could win both the emotional as well as the physical battles on the court with total confidence.
“When they came into our gym and started to creep back in the score, we knew that they were not [going to catch us] because we had a lot more heart than they did,” said Robinson.
David Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.