NEW YORK — In what seemed to be anyone’s game at the conclusion of the first half, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team suffered a 69-57 loss at Fordham on Wednesday. A number of small blunders eventually caught up with the Minutewomen and negatively affected their performance.
UMass (3-14, 1-1 Atlantic 10 conference) entered the game looking to continue its momentum after topping George Washington, 62-58, on Saturday.
Both teams began the game with an anxious sense of urgency, but played well early on. The Minutewomen shot 48.8% from the field in the first half, with Carolann Cloutier leading the team with eight points at the break.
However, UMass coach Sharon Dawley noted that numerous offensive rebounds for the Rams (12-5, 2-0 A-10) was again a thorn in the side of her team.
“What burned us was giving up the 12 offensive boards in the first half,” she said. “(We gave up) only three in the second half, but we couldn’t combat the lead that we had given up pretty much for their offensive boards.”
With the score at 32-26 at the end of the first, the Minutewomen were only down by eight and their defense was forcing the Rams into mistakes. Seventeen minutes, 23 seconds into the second half, the Minutewomen managed to cut the deficit to only four points, but as time elapsed, Fordham’s lead continued to rise.
UMass continued to foul its opponent, as well, with seven fouls alone in the second half.
While the Minutewomen were grabbing offensive rebounds, fighting the Rams’ defense and taking every opportunity to score, Fordham maintained a 16-point lead with 7:42 remaining in the game and eventually pulled away for the win.
Freshman Rashida Timbilla had a team-high 10 rebounds and Jasmine Watson was able to snatch up offensive rebounds, drive to the basket, and bring herself to the free throw line often. She ended the game with 11 points and six rebounds.
“I feel like we are just getting better as a team overall,” Watson said. “We are staying positive. We have a new motto that says ‘Believe’. So I think we are really just believing in what the coaches are feeding us and we are believing in each other and we are playing better.”
Cloutier shot 3-of-3 from the 3-point line and finished with 13 points.
“I feel good about my shooting, but we didn’t come out with a win,” she said.“We’ve been working on it a lot. It feels weird that we are struggling right now.”
As they move forward to the next game, defense is crucial for the Minutewomen.
“Right now it is key,” Cloutier said, “because (Fordham) went one-on-one pretty much the whole game, and we got beat down the stretch. I think if we got some stops, we would have been in the game with four minutes left, but we were down 10.”
Cloutier also emphasized the importance of having a good attitude.
“Like coach was saying in the locker room, we are just trying to be positive,” she added. “We’re doing great things, and we know the next game we are going to be even better.
“Tomorrow we have practice and we are going to focus a lot on defense and boxing out. Hopefully, everything goes well on Saturday against St. Bonaventure.”
Watson added that the team must learn from their mistakes.
“Every game we are trying to get better,” she said. “We are completely different from the team we were last week so as long as we keep getting better each day, staying positive, and resting we shouldn’t have any worries. This should be our last lost of the conference.”
Next up, UMass will play at St. Bonaventure on Saturday. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.
Kaitlin Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @Kaitlin_Boyer.