Scrolling Headlines:

Student-run political groups gear up for the Massachusetts primary -

February 9, 2016

UMass prepares for matchups with AIC, Northeastern -

February 9, 2016

Football, social Goods, and choice -

February 9, 2016

Rihanna makes her biggest artistic statement on ‘Anti’ -

February 9, 2016

Berthiaume Center recognized with top entrepreneurship award -

February 9, 2016

Massachusetts club hockey holds on for 5-4 victory over Montclair State -

February 9, 2016

A-10 Notebook: Davidson, George Washington earn conference wins -

February 9, 2016

Amherst hires new interim town manager -

February 9, 2016

Man arrested for possession of heroin with intent to distribute -

February 9, 2016

David Bowie makes his death a spectacle in ‘Blackstar’ -

February 8, 2016

Sia’s ‘This is Acting’ is simply that: acting. -

February 8, 2016

The art of perseverance -

February 8, 2016

UMass hockey to participate in 2016 Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland -

February 8, 2016

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ maintains charm in 11th season -

February 8, 2016

IT Forum held to outline updates in new security policies -

February 8, 2016

No need to keep the light on for lackluster horror ‘The Boy’ -

February 8, 2016

Hockey East Notebook: UNH upsets No. 8 UMass Lowell -

February 8, 2016

UMass Poll results place Sanders, Trump at top going into NH primary -

February 8, 2016

Herrell’s ‘Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day’ event a sweet success -

February 8, 2016

Inside game highlights Minutewomen’s effort in defeat -

February 8, 2016

Timbilla rising to the occasion

With only two seniors returning for the 2012-13 season, Massachusetts women’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley wasn’t about to lament over the many burdens facing her relatively inexperienced squad; someone among UMass’ five freshmen would have to step up for the team to be competitive this year.

Bryn Rothschild-Shea/Collegian

What Dawley couldn’t have known before the season, however, was that one of the newcomers, freshman forward Rashida Timbilla, would not only rise to the occasion, but would, in fact, emerge as one of the Minutewomen’s top players.

The most recent confirmation of Timbilla’s ascension came in a pair of weekly awards – UMass Player of the Week and Atlantic 10 Conference Honor Roll – recognizing her superlative play in recent games against Ohio and Miami (Ohio).

Timbilla, a native of Ontario, Canada, has been a revelation of sorts early this season, filling out box scores left and right.

Through eight games, she leads the team in rebounding (9.0 rpg) and steals (2.4 per game), is second in shooting percentage (54.5 percent), assists (3.0 apg) and blocks (1.0 per game) and is third in scoring (10.3 points per game).

In the Atlantic 10 Conference, Timbilla’s numbers are good for a fourth-place tie in total rebounds and fifth in steals. She also leads the league in offensive rebounds with 36.

As such, Dawley hasn’t kept her stud rookie confined to the bench for any longer than necessary, resulting in a team-leading 256 minutes played.

Timbilla has been especially crucial for the Minutewomen of late, as senior center and co-captain Jasmine Watson has been limited with post-concussion symptoms. Without its team leader, UMass rallied together for its second win, and first road victory, of the season against the Bobcats.

“We just asked a little bit more of Rashida,” Dawley said of the win over Ohio. “She had the ball in her hands a little bit more, ended up with 16 (points) and 13 (rebounds). I think what I saw in Rashida was ‘(I) refuse to lose.’ Something clicked, and she just said ‘It’s not happening today.’

Timbilla “played really good defense, got big boards, scored for us and then got some huge blocks,” Dawley said.

With the win UMass moved to 2-0 in games in which Timbilla records a double-double.

Even in the Minutewomen’s follow-up loss to the RedHawks, Timbilla drew the praise of her coach with a 7-point, 15-rebound effort at Miami.

“I saw just great effort (and) fight,” Dawley said. “Fifteen rebounds is huge.”

Still, the freshman forward has room to grow. In addition to her already-polished resume, Timbilla can also claim some less than impressive numbers, including a team high 3.9 turnovers per game and a 47.6 free throw shooting percentage. She’s also fouled out of four of UMass’ eight games.

Dawley chalks Timbilla’s over-zealous struggles up to freshman nerves and growing pains. Even so, the Minutewomen hope Timbilla’s development continues by becoming even more aggressive on the floor.

“What we need from her is to look for her own on offense a little bit,” Dawley said. She’s a phenomenal distributor, which is great, but when, say, (sophomore Emily Mital) has hit a cold spot, we need Rashida to maybe to look for her own a little bit. If we could go back and play that game (against Miami) and Rashida shoots maybe five more times, maybe it’s a different outcome.

“But she’s a freshman; she’s learning the game,” she said. “She’s learning how to play under pressure and 15 rebounds is remarkable.”

Daniel Malone can be reached at dmalone@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Daniel_Malone.

Leave A Comment