With the season winding to an end for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, which can’t make the playoffs, the primary goal is to put an end to the 11-game skid that has plagued it throughout the team’s Atlantic 10 Conference campaign.
With just two games left to play, putting a halt to the drought will be a tough task, however.
On Wednesday, the team tips off its final road game of the season in Philadelphia against Saint Joseph’s, a team that UMass has had its share of troubles with in recent years.
Traveling has not been kind to the Minutewomen (3-24, 1-11 A-10) this season, as they’ve posted a 1-13 away record. On the other hand, the Hawks have been almost just as good at home as they have on the road, going 9-4 at Hagan Arena and 10-3 away from their familiar surroundings.
Since beating Saint Joseph’s (19-7, 10-2 A-10) 75-62 in 2010, the Minutewomen have fallen twice to the Hawks, with the gap between the teams growing drastically each time. In 2011, Saint Joseph’s squeaked past the Minutewomen 72-68, but just a year later, the Hawks dropped UMass for a 28-point win, 86-58.
After putting 10 points down against Duquesne last time out, Jasmine Watson continues to be the team’s main scoring threat, chipping in 11.7 points per game. However, the Hawks front court could prove to be a challenge for the 6-foot-3 center.
Countering Watson down low will be Chatil Van Grinsven, whose 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game place her fourth and third in the conference, respectively. In contrast, Watson ranks 14th and 19th in those same categories, while teammate Rashida Timbilla’s 8.2 boards place her seventh.
The Minutewomen will also face challenges from the outside, as the team remains in a shooting funk that has plagued it throughout conference play.
Sophomore Emily Mital is the current team leader in made 3-pointers despite being mired in a slump in which she’s gone 2-for-21 over the past six games in increasingly limited playing time. Prior to throwing up six misses from beyond the arc against Temple, Mital registered 11 points in teams defeat against La Salle, where she also converted all three of her 3-point attempts.
The Hawks pose two outside threats, with most of the damage being done by Erin Shields. Having started every game her team has played, the guard has averaged 11 points per contest, shooting 35.8 percent from beyond the arc. Fellow guard Ashley Prim has also contributed 7.5 points per game, including converting on 19-of-52 attempts from 3-point range.
The contest tips off at 7 p.m. from the Hagan Center in Philadelphia.
Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.