The Massachusetts women’s basketball team may have broken out new, flashy uniforms on Sunday, but the final result was a story all too familiar for a Minutewomen squad struggling to manufacture wins.
Donning an all-pink jersey ensemble in recognition of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund’s “Play4Kay Game,” UMass struggled to keep pace in the second half against Temple, falling 66-54 after being outscored by 11 points in the final 20 minutes of play. The loss was the Minutewomen’s (3-19, 1-6 Atlantic 10 Conference) sixth in a row after opening its conference schedule with a 62-58 win over George Washington on Jan. 12.
“Obviously, (we) hate the outcome that we dropped a game to Temple,” UMass coach Sharon Dawley said. “I thought our intensity was good, our attitudes were good. (But) as a team, we just could not score. … Too many trips coming up empty, and we let two kids light us up.”
Leading the charge for the Owls (10-11, 3-3 A-10) were Tyonna Williams (23 points) and Rateska Brown (21 points). The pair combined to score two-thirds of Temple’s total points and stuck as a thorn in the side of the Minutewomen throughout the game. Dawley said “Brown was great” and “Williams was even better.”
Though the impressive Williams-Brown attack was overpowering at times, it was an uncharacteristically extended stretch of poor 3-point shooting that sealed UMass’ fate against the Owls. Emily Mital, who ranks fifth in the A-10 in 3-pointers per game with 2.1, and Carolann Cloutier, who leads the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 41.2 percent, combined to shoot only 1-of-13 from beyond the arc on Sunday.
The Minutewomen made only 3-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc overall, while Temple finished with eight, including five 3-point makes from Brown alone.
Mital, who finished the game with four points, said she tries not to let struggles affect her in that type of situation.
I try to tell myself, ‘you know, I’m making the next one,’” Mital said, “and just think positively about the next shot instead of thinking about the last shots.”
Both teams struggled to find a scoring rhythm out of the gate, combining to shoot just 29.9 percent in the first half. The Minutewomen, who were led in scoring by Kiara Bomben (14 points, five rebounds) and Rashida Timbilla (12 points, 11 rebounds), went into the break down 26-25.
“My teammates do a great job of getting me the ball,” Bomben said, “and I know that everyone has faith in me to shoot it. So, when I’m open I’m looking to shoot it.”
With the 3-pointers not falling and little offensive production from its leading scorer, Jasmine Watson, who finished with just seven points on seven shots, UMass was unable to match Temple’s second half output.
“I thought they were doing a good job jamming Jas up, which is why she only got seven shots,” Dawley said of Watson, who settled for a few awkward jump shots after finding the lane continually clogged. “As the game wears on and there’s blocked shots and you’re not going to the foul line, it creeps into your head, and you start thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll pull up from here.’”
The Minutewomen next head out from Amherst for a three-game road trip, but Dawley isn’t concerned, saying “I have no doubt that we’ll go on the road and we’ll make threes.”
UMass kicks off the trip with a 9 p.m. tip against Saint Louis on Thursday.
Daniel Malone can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Daniel_Malone.