The Massachusetts women’s basketball team had its losing streak stretched to seven games Thursday night, falling at Saint Louis, 59-50, during a nationally televised affair aired on CBS Sports Network.
Senior center Jasmine Watson headlined the Minutewomen’s effort, leading the squad with 20 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, while freshman guard Rashida Timbilla finished with eight points.
Despite the loss, Watson said this game re-energized her confidence and fighting spirit.
“I definitely needed this game to get my confidence to where it used to be,” Watson said. “When my confidence is down, I still talk to my teammates, but it’s not the same. I feel like for me to contribute to the team, I need to pick it up.”
UMass (3-20, 1-7 Atlantic 10 Conference) jumped out to a 10-1 run, but poor shooting allowed the Billikens (10-12, 4-3 A-10) back into the game and closed the deficit to 24-20 at halftime. Seven minutes, 49 seconds into the second half, Saint Louis had the lead for good.
A Jasmine Harris triple got to within three with two minutes left, but the Billikens scored seven of the final eight points to hold off the Minutewomen.
UMass coach Sharon Dawley said her team’s effort was there, but a lack of execution at crucial moments came back to haunt them in the end.
“I think (offensive is) exactly how we played the whole game, it’s just that we went through so many minutes of not being able to score,” Dawley said. “I feel like it was 10-1 forever, neither team could score. If we did a better job shooting the basketball, we could’ve had a substantial lead which would’ve given us a lot of confidence heading into halftime.”
With the Minutewomen leading by four at the break, SLU junior forward Lorreal Jones and senior guard Jacy Bradley, who combined for 25 points on the night, championed an effort that outscored UMass, 39-26, after halftime.
Although play came down to a three-point gap near the end of the second frame, Dawley said a factor in the loss was not enough team scoring.
“I felt like if (Watson) got a look, we looked good on offense and if (Jasmine) didn’t, we didn’t look good on offense because there was really no one else chipping in,” Dawley said. “We had 50 points, she had 20, so there’s not a lot going on around her right now.”
Watson sees lack of consistency and tempo as prevalent aspects that contributed to an unfavorable outcome.
“I think it’s a problem of ours,” she said. “We’re just working on being consistent and upbeat the whole game. It really felt like we did that, we came out ready to play.”
Watson, motivated by the sting of a fresh loss, said the Minutewomen are on the same page moving forward with the rest of the season.
“We’re going to be the aggressors for the whole 40 minutes,” Watson said. “We’ve come to a team decision that this next game, this (lackluster play) cannot happen again.”
Sunday’s game against Rhode Island was postponed due to travel concerns in the aftermath of the weekend’s snowstorm.
Peter Cappiello can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cappiello