Minutewomen dominant in the paint, but turnovers prove too costly
The Massachusetts women’s basketball team made a concerted effort to get the ball inside, but those efforts were neutralized by its inability to take care of the basketball in a 58-55 overtime loss to Central Connecticut Wednesday night at the Mullins Center.
UMass finished the game with 15 assists against 27 turnovers, four of which came in an overtime that they were unable to score in, missing all six shots from the field.
Junior center Jasmine Watson was UMass’ most effective player, logging 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks for her 10th career double-double. Junior forward Shakia Robinson nearly added a double-double of her own as she finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Both players were impressive at times, seemingly scoring at will in the post.
Watson – who struggled with her shot in the opener against Boston University, going scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting from the field – shot 7-for-15 from the field Wednesday night, while Robinson went 6-10. What helped diminish each of these performances, though, was the stat showed near the end of the stat line: turnovers. Watson committed three and Robinson committed six, all of which contributed in sealing the Minutewomen’s defeat.
Another forward, redshirt freshman Millie Niggeling, provided a spark for UMass in the first half, scoring six points while showing a versatile inside-out game.
“Millie’s extremely skilled on the offensive end,” head coach Sharon Dawley said.
Niggeling had an opportunity to seal the win for UMass as time winded down in regulation, but her close range shot rimmed out. Niggeling said that she wasn’t aware of just how much time was left on the clock at the time, but that she knows Dawley has confidence in her and that she will be able to contribute to the team, especially on the offensive end of the floor.
Dawley would add that while the forwards should be dominant, the amount of turnovers that UMass committed proved too much to overcome, turning what should have been an advantage into something that ultimately helped UMass lose the game.
The guards, who in spurts were able to successfully get the ball inside where the Minutewomen could take full advantage of their skills down low, were also erratic in their ball control. The two starting guards, Megan Zullo and Carolann Cloutier, combined to turn the ball over nine times, equaling their combined assist total.
Part of what caused UMass to turn the ball over so much was the defensive play of Jaclyn and Jessica Babe, both of whom finished the game with five steals. As a team, Central Connecticut (2-0) ripped the ball away from the Minutewomen 13 times.
The Blue Devils were able to limit their turnovers to 14. Another telling statistic was how each team finished at the free throw line. Central Connecticut did not visit the charity stripe as often as UMass, but they cashed in when they did, netting eight of the ten free throws they attempted. UMass finished the game 7-for-16 at the line, with Watson and Robinson combining to go 1-for-8.
UMass could neither find the range from behind the three point line, finishing just 2-11 after what was a 7-15 showing in the opener against BU.
The Minutewomen out-rebounded the Blue Devils 50-41, securing their second straight 50 rebound game after not having one since 2006.
Up next for UMass will be a game at Miami (Ohio) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Oxford, Ohio.
Eric Mansfield can be reached at email@example.com.