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May 4, 2017

Turnover problems down Minutewomen against La Salle

Cade Belisle/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team was its own worst enemy against La Salle on Wednesday. The Minutewomen  (3-18, 1-5 Atlantic 10 Conference) turned the ball over 25 times, and the Explorers (7-13, 3-2 A-10) capitalized by scoring 39 of their 68 points in UMass’ 68-57 loss on Field Trip Day at the Mullins Center.

UMass coach Sharon Dawley said that although she believes her team played well for most of the game, turnovers were a leading factor in the loss.

“I thought we had a really good 32 minutes out of the 40 today, but we had way too many turnovers,” Dawley said. “ That’s just making the game too easy for them.”

Starting off the game with a slow and balanced attack, the Minutewomen were able to dictate the pace, culminating in a 43-35 scoreline with 11 minutes, 53 seconds left in the second half, courtesy of a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Emily Mital.

But once UMass started forcing unnecessary passes, the game flipped in La Salle’s favor. Dawley said some of the passes shouldn’t have been thrown while playing at a fast pace.

“I think we definitely forced it a lot,” Dawley said. “We saw a potential fast break and threw a ball that maybe should not have been thrown, but that’s just what happens in a game like that. Unfortunately the timing of our turnovers is always probably the worst possible time and that’s what got us today.”

UMass controls the boards

While turnovers hindered the Minutewomen throughout the contest, UMass did win the battle of the boards, out-rebounding La Salle 43-34.

Senior center Jasmine Watson led her team in points with 14 and on the glass with 11 rebounds, including eight defensive boards, en route to a double-double.

Knowing the importance of rebounding for her team’s success, Watson felt as if nobody could box her out all game.

“It really helped me out this game,” Watson said. “I think the difference this game was that I wasn’t in foul trouble, so I could actually go to the boards. I was talking to my guards like, ‘help me rebound,’ and when we rebound as a team, our numbers go way up.”

Three players totaled 57 of the Explorer’s 68 points.

Senior guards Ebonee Jones, Shanel Harrison and redshirt Brittany Wilson played a combined 118 minutes and were the difference-makers on the floor.

Dawley said the failure to contain La Salle’s top scorers caused the game to get out of UMass’ hands.

“We talked in the locker room how basically three players racked up 68 points against us,” Dawley said. “It wasn’t the team that beat us, it was three players.”

Finding positives in her team’s play, Dawley said that ultimately the loss could be chalked up to the  trio’s ability to score from anywhere on the court.

“I thought (junior forward Kiara Bomben) did a good job on Wilson for a while,” Dawley said. “But we need three kids to step up and be stoppers if we’re going to play a team of basically three all-stars that can make their own shot at any time. That’s really where the game broke down, we knew exactly what they were gonna run, I thought we defended things well, but push comes to shove, we didn’t lock them up.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at pcappiel@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cappiello.

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