Minutewomen suffer from shooting struggles
With just a second on the clock, Massachusetts women’s basketball guard Kiara Bomben rose up and drained a 3-pointer, closing out the first half and bringing UMass within one point of Temple.
However, those crucial three of Bomben’s 14 points would stand out as one of the few chances that the Minutewomen (3-19, 1-6 Atlantic 10) converted from outside on their way to a 66-54 defeat against the Owls (10-11, 3-3 A-10).
UMass coach Sharon Dawley “hated” the outcome, and added that her team’s inability to find their range on jump shots made the game a difficult one.
“I thought our intensity was good, our attitude was good. (But) as a team we just could not score,” Dawley said. “Too many trips coming up empty.
“And we let two kids light us up.”
In a game that was statistically even, the Minutewomen struggled from the floor and, more importantly, from 3-point range.
While Emily Mital and Carolann Cloutier, a pair of shooters that have amassed 46.6 percent of the Minutewomen’s long range attempts on the season, teamed up to go 1-of-13 from beyond the arc, while Temple’s Tyonna Williams and Rateska Brown went 7-of-20.
Mital, a sophomore who has hit 34.4 percent from beyond the arc this season, finished with an uncharacteristic bagel on six long shots, adding two points from the field and another two from the line. It was her second frustrating stat line in as many games, having been forced to the bench early in the first half of the defeat against La Salle last Wednesday with foul trouble.
Cloutier, who has made seven consecutive starts since fully recovering from her torn ACL, faired better from inside the arc, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. However, the redshirt junior added six misses of her seven attempts from 3-point range.
Mital admitted after the game that as the contest wore on her, shooting woes may have had an effect on her mentality, but she could not let that change the way she was expected to play.
“I would like to think (struggling from the field does not affect me), but it probably does,” Mital said. “I think with any shooter and you miss one or two, then you’re thinking about the next one. You don’t want to miss it or you’re trying too hard to make it.
“My teammates and I just try to think positively about the next shot rather than thinking about the last shots.”
Dawley remains confident that her team is just going through a phase that is natural in the game of basketball.
“Great shooters go through these things and they come out the other side,” Dawley said. “(Mital) is a great 3-point shooter. I think just because she misses a shot, we don’t change how we play because we would be saying we don’t believe in (her).
“She did not make any (Sunday), but that does not mean we change the way we play, or what we want, or take her off the floor. That just means next game she will probably make them all.”
For the Minutewomen, Bomben was the lone success from the field. The first half hero added another three in the second half, also going 3-of-5 from inside the arc and two free throws to finish with 14, two shy of her season high.
While she stood out from her teammates, she also credited them for her successful day.
“My teammates do a great job of getting me the ball,” Bomben said. “I know everyone has faith in me to shoot it, so when I’m open then I’m looking to shoot it.”
The defeat against Temple leaves the Minutewomen with six straight loses, but that does not mean Dawley is ready to abandon any strategy with just seven games before the A-10 tournament.
“No change,” Dawley said. “Especially if we are not shooting well at home then what do we care if we are on the road? We might shoot better.
“It is hard, which is why I give so much credit to the kids, to be where we are and for them to show up as positively as they do every day.”
The Minutewomen have three straight games away from the Mullins Center starting with Saint Louis on Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.