WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: UMass splits weekend pair in Classic

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s basketball team put aside an embarrassing loss to Maine on Nov. 23, competing hard to reach the finals of the Coors Classic this weekend in Boulder, Colo.

The Minutewomen ultimately fell short in the finals against Minnesota, 86-67, after defeating Colorado, 70-62, in the first round of the tournament.

Sophomore forward Teya Wright led UMass (3-3) against the Golden Gophers, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the best performance of her career. But foul trouble limited her impact and minutes against Colorado, as the Minutewomen faded in the second half to squander an 8-point halftime lead.

Colorado outscored UMass 58-31 after halftime. Wright had just two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes. Valerie Avebe also ran into foul trouble, leaving the Minutewomen with a small lineup and Colorado dominating the boards, 40-28.

“Our bigs were in foul trouble – Teya only played 17 minutes and was a non-factor – and we can’t win games when that happens,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said after the weekend’s action.

Dacko was concerned entering the game about the fatigue-factor, playing for the second night in a row in the high altitude.

“I didn’t know if the fatigue factor or altitude factor was going to be a problem, and I think that it took some of its toll against Minnesota,” Dacko said.

UMass bounced back well this weekend from the Maine loss, where the Minutewomen committed 27 turnovers in a 54-45 defeat. UMass shot 17-of-56 (30.4 percent) in that contest. Maine wasn’t much better, turning the ball over 24 times and shooting 40.5 percent. But a four-point halftime lead didn’t stick, as UMass was outscored 30-17 in the second half.

The Minutewomen experienced similar problems against Minnesota (6-1). Squandering a sizeable halftime lead, UMass turned the ball over 20 times, leading to easy Golden Gopher baskets.

Cerie Cogrove was a bright spot for the Minutewomen, scoring 17 points on the strength of 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Stefanie Gerardot scored 15 and Sakera Young had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists off the bench.

Mosgrove hit three triples in the win over the Buffaloes, but scored just the nine points. Geradot and Kim Benton each scored 12 – with nine coming in the second half for Benton. Benton’s 3-pointer less than two minutes into the contest gave UMass a 5-2 lead, an edge it would never relinquish.

UMass only turned the ball over 13 times, which helped it sustain pushes – led by the 36 points from Brittany Spears – by the Buffaloes.

“I was really proud of the way our kids came out and played, it was complete basketball from top to bottom,” Dacko said.

UMass returns to action Wednesday at the Mullins Center against Providence.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]