Freshman Rashida Timbilla spent the last seconds of the Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s loss to Holy Cross on the bench, having turned the ball over six times and fouling out.
On Thursday afternoon, the guard returned to the court unfazed, dropping 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the Minutewomen’s 65-61 win over Ohio to help end the team’s five-game losing streak.
Coach Sharon Dawley was front-and-center for Timbilla’s bounce back performance.
“I think what I saw in Rashida was ‘refuse to lose’,” Dawley said in a postgame interview with UMassAthletics.com. “Something just clicked and she just said, ‘It’s not happening today.’ (Rashida) played really good defense, got boards, scored for us and then got some huge blocks.”
Timbilla’s contribution was key for UMass (2-5) who was without its leading scorer Jasmine Watson.
The Ottawa, Ontario, native was also a force down low, where Watson usually operates. Seven of Timbilla’s 13 boards came on the offensive end. On defense she added four blocks to the team total of 11.
Dawley was pleased that Timbilla stepped up for the afternoon affair.
“We just asked a little bit more of Rashida,” Dawley said. “She had the ball in her hands a little bit more, ended up with 16 (points) and 13 (rebounds) so overall it was a good move.”
Emily Mital scored 13 points and added four rebounds of her own for UMass. She opened the scoring with an early 3-pointer to set the tempo.
Three minutes in, the Bobcats (1-4) took a brief lead, but the Minutewomen recovered quickly and never looked back.
The bench play was also important in the UMass victory, which Dawley recognized in her center’s absence.
“Kids coming off the bench were huge,” Dawley said. “They gave us big minutes especially with (Jasmine) being out.
“Kim (Pierre-Louis) is a down low threat and Millie’s (Niggeling) a 3-point shooter that gets us into a rhythm. Nola Henry did a great job off the bench, (Carolann Cloutier) helped us off the bench, Jasmine Harris made a huge three and also played some gritty defense.”
Pierre-Louis contributed eight points off the bench along with six rebounds. Harris added nine, while Niggeling added six points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks. Dawley was especially pleased with Niggeling’s second block, with 2:46 remaining in the first half, which she labeled as “momentum killing.”
Kiyanna Black represented the Bobcats biggest threat, with her 21 points off the bench, while providing five assists and swiping four steals. However, her contribution wasn’t enough, as she was the only Ohio player to score in double figures.
Dawley also had praise for senior guard Dee Montgomery. Though she didn’t record a basket from the floor, the captain put three points through from the free throw line and grabbed five boards.
“I would say the number one aspect of today was the leadership of Dee Montgomery,” Dawley said.
The Minutewomen will have the opportunity to complete their Ohio sweep in Oxford, Ohio, on Saturday when they take on Miami (Ohio) at 2 p.m.
Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.