The Massachusetts women’s basketball team fell to Atlantic 10 leader St. Bonaventure Wednesday night. Shakia Robinson’s game-high 19 points weren’t enough as the Minutewomen fell to the No. 25 Bonnies.
SBU (23-2, 10-0 A-10) opened the game on a 7-0 run, a lead which it would not relinquish. The Bonnies’ leading 3-point shooter, Jessica Jenkins, opened the game as a scoring threat. UMass (6-18, 1-8 A-10) then missed its first six shots before Robinson scooped up an offensive rebound and went straight up for the score.
Following a timeout, the Bonnies came out and fired away from beyond the arc with five straight 3-pointers, with Chelsea Bowker being the only one to convert from long range.
Triples from Emilie Teuscher and Emily Mital kept the game close at 18-10, but SBU continued to widen the gap following the mini-Minutewomen resurgence.
The Bonnies opened up their biggest lead of the opening half with a pair of free throws to push the score to 30-14, but UMass had no intention of rolling over.
“I’ve been really impressed with this team every day,” said UMass coach Sharon Dawley. “This team has no quit in it. I’ve seen kids give up, but there is no give up on this team and I admire them every day for that.”
The Minutewomen began to find their shooting form, sinking a pair of 3-pointers and free throws of their own. In conjunction with a pair of blocks and a shot-clock violation, the Bonnies were held without a point for the last three minutes, 14 seconds of the half.
That momentum would carry over to the opening of the second half as UMass cut the SBU lead down to three at 38-35. Hands in the passing lanes created two turnovers which the Minutewomen were able to capitalize on. Following each turnover, quick down-low exchanges between Robinson and Jasmine Watson turned into layups. Carolann Cloutier got in the action, contributing a layup of her own.
The turnaround was exactly what Dawley was looking for.
“[At halftime] we just talked about getting the ball inside a little more and having a little bit more patience,” said Dawley. “We had to make more shots inside and I think Shakia came in and did that. I think her coming in and her 19 points in the paint made a world of difference.”
The Bonnies looked to regain control with the game dwindling below 10 minutes to play. Amelia Horton converted a layup and-one. Jenkins then sank her two opportunities from the charity stripe to extend the lead to 51-41. However, quick play from UMass, combined with a pair of sloppy SBU possessions that ended with an air-ball and a travel, respectively, allowed the Minutewomen to pull within six points.
With the game creeping under 6:30 to play, the Minutewomen had sloppy play with four-of-six possessions ending in turnovers and the remaining two concluding with missed 3-pointers. The Bonnies converted those turnovers into scores, going on a 16-4 run to essentially put away the game, leaving UMass with 1:43 to make up a 17-point deficit.
The loss for Dawley doesn’t come without positives though. UMass only made nine turnovers in the contest against a stout St. Bonaventure defense.
“We’ve made progress,” said Dawley. “If you told me a month ago we would only turn the ball over nine times against the Bonnies, I’d say ‘really?’, but we’ve had to work hard to get to that point.”
Dawley, however, was less than pleased with the rebounding efforts from her team. SBU out-rebounded the Minutewomen 45-31 and 15-8 on the offensive end.
“We took a step back on rebounding though which had been one of our strengths,” said Dawley.
The Minutewomen now hit the road as their season winds down with an upcoming contest against Temple in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.