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Minutewomen try to remain undefeated

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team will look to win its second straight game at home when it takes on Central Connecticut State on Wednesday night at the Mullins Center.

Lorin Reid/Collegian

UMass coach Sharon Dawley is trying to improve on the 7-23 overall record that her team posted last season, when Dawley was hired as head coach.

“I feel like we’re a lot more in sync with each other, last year being our first year with coach [Dawley] and now we have her system down,” said Megan Zullo in a UMassAthletics.com post-game interview.

The season has already been an improvement over last year as the Minutewomen have already won a game, something they failed to do last season until their seventh game of the season against Brown.

“This year we all have the mindset that we’re not taking losses for an answer anymore, we’re not just going to settle for average,” said Shakia Robinson in a UMassAthletics.com post-game interview.

Another piece to the puzzle for Dawley this season is the balance of her team. Last season, UMass relied heavily on shooting from beyond the arc. This year, Dawley’s squad has more balance inside the key.

“We have five post players this year to rotate into two spots so if we get into foul trouble at all we don’t have to panic,” said Dawley in a UMassAthletics.com interview. “I think the strong-post play will complement the 3-point shooting this season.”

The Minutewomen have five players listed at greater than six-feet tall in Robinson, Watson, redshirt freshman Millie Niggeling and freshmen Aisha Rodney and Kim Pierre-Louis.

In terms of shooting, Zullo is the biggest threat the Minutewomen have from 3-point range, making 70 3-pointers last season, good enough for second on the team behind now-graduate Cerie Mosgrove.

Despite the absence of Mosgrove, newcomer Carolann Cloutier has been a solid addition as Dawley employs a three guard set to compliment Zullo and senior guard Emilie Teuscher. In their first game, the trio combined for 27 points while the rest of the team accounted for 28.

However, the Minutewomen will need a better offensive outing from Watson down the road after she was held to zero points on seven shots.

Looking back to last weekend, UMass won its season opener on Sunday against Boston University due to a strong defensive effort. Dawley praised the strong defensive effort of her team, shutting down three of the Terrier’s perennial scorers. UMass held Chantell Alford, Mo Moran and Alex Young to just 9-for-42 shooting.

Robinson led the Minutewomen with 22 points and eight rebounds. Cloutier grabbed a team-high 10 boards and six assists while Megan Zullo scored 17 points, going 5-for-7 from beyond the arc.

The Blue Devils started their season with a 53-48 victory at home against Maine. Junior Jaclyn Babe scored 16 points in her debut with CCSU. The Blue Devils went into halftime with a nine-point league and never relinquished it in the second half. Kirsten Daamen scored nine points while freshman point guard Kaley Watras ran the offense with five assists.

Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Devils kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

Michael Counos can be reached at mcounos@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @MDC_Counos.

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