Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Umass woeful in home loss to JMU

Could haves, would haves, and should haves don’t matter. It didn’t pull it out, and it could have won this one.

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team (3-4) took the William D. Mullins Center hardwood on Friday night against James Madison University (4-3), and it wasn’t pretty. JMU won the game, 72-65, and although it wasn’t a blowout, it was a constant case of catch-up as UMass trailed by an average of nine points during the second half.

UMass was out-rebounded, out-shot, out-hustled, and out-played in every major aspect of the game. In a contest that Head Coach Joanie O’Brien conceded she couldn’t take anything positive away from, the game will be a memory that is hopefully forgotten quickly.

“I’m very disappointed,” O’Brien said. “Every game for us will be a challenge, but we didn’t play. We played soft; we played passive. We got some people out there that think scoring is their most important thing and that’s why we’re struggling.”

O’Brien made it obvious that she was most upset about her team’s play on the defensive half of the court; or perhaps, she was most upset about her team’s lack of play on the defensive half of the court. James Madison scored 13 more fast break points than the Minutewomen, 14 more in the paint, and grabbed more total rebounds. The Dukes shot a deadly 52% from the field, including 3-5 from behind the arc.

“My biggest disappointment in the game was our defense,” said O’Brien. “We were so passive on defense. On offense, we missed a lot of shots. We got a lot of good looks, but the ball didn’t go in the hole. It basically came down to our defense and we didn’t step up and play tonight and that was a big concern for me.”

If UMass is to go anywhere this season, it will have to play strong ‘D’ and win the ever-important rebound battle, neither of which it did on Friday.

In the frontcourt, the Minutewomen were limited to only 17 points from its three major post players. Sophomore center Jennifer Butler was held to a mere 8 points on 2-14 shooting and her fellow colleagues Caroline Nehls and Siiri Liivandi combined for only 9 points.

As for the backcourt, senior point guard Kathy Coyner was as solid as ever. The co-captain brought 25 points home while nailing four of her seven shots from three-point land. But Coyner couldn’t do it all herself, and she knew that. Enter Amber Sneed. The sophomore had her best game of the season, coming off the bench to score 15 points over 25 minutes.

“Amber was playing well and she was making some things happen,” O’Brien said. “She was playing with emotion and she was really the only one playing with emotion. She was all over the place trying to get everybody fired up, and she did a great job.”

But Sneed fouled out with 5:40 left in the game, and no one else was able to step and score. Freshman Paige Harris was held to only six points on six attempts. Both of Harris’s baskets were treys, and it is evident that she needs more shooting attempts. But opposing teams are recognizing that Harris is dangerous, and are covering her appropriately. JMU ran a “triangle on two” zone defense, which took Harris out of the mix of things.

But in the end, UMass didn’t shoot well in the second half (30.2%), didn’t defend very well, and didn’t fight throughout this game. The Dukes wanted this one more, and they got it.

Coyner said it best: “I think there are a lot of things that we have to go back and evaluate as a team. We need to look each other in the eye and know that we can trust one another and go out there and play. We have a lot of things to do.”

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