Minutewomen lose despite 24 from Stefanie Gerardot

P.J. Stanley/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team played strong enough defense against visiting Saint Louis Saturday afternoon to have a very good chance of bringing their four game losing streak to a halt.

However, the Minutewomen couldn’t generate enough offense and put the Billikens (10-11, 4-2 Atlantic 10) at the free-throw line, as UMass went on to suffer a three-point defeat, 70-67, at the Mullins Center.

‘[I’m] extremely disappointed because our gameplan was for us to be shooting free-throws,’ UMass coach Marnie Dacko said after the game. ‘Instead, we fouled them early and put them in the bonus.’

The Billikens took advantage of their time at the charity stripe, converting 22-of-27 free-throw attempts, while UMass shot just 68 percent for the game.

The loss drops the Minutewomen to 1-5 in the A-10, and 8-13 overall.

‘I was pleased with our defensive intensity; we just had a tough time putting the ball in the bucket,’ Dacko said.

Senior guard Stefanie Gerardot had her fifth 20-point game of the season with a team-leading 24 points, while sophomore forward Teya Wright and senior guard Sakera Young added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Minutewomen got off to a slow start to the game, as Billiken forward Lauren Woods sparked a 22-6 run for SLU, which led to a 30-14 advantage through the first half.

With nearly nine minutes to play, Wright made a layup, but the Minutewomen didn’t score for more than four minutes until Young made a field goal at the end of the half.

The Minutewomen went into halftime by scoring the final seven points and cutting the deficit to 34-25.

Dacko told her squad at intermission what needed to happen in order for them to pull out a victory.

‘We still needed to be able to defend, and the first five minutes of the second half were important, and we made a really nice second run,’ Dacko said. ‘But, we were in a scoring drought and put them to the foul line.’

The Minutewomen went on a 12-0 run to open the second half and brought them within four points of the Billikens, but still struggled to knock shots down with forwards Cerie Mosgrove and Kristina Danella.

‘They went to a zone and we still couldn’t buy a basket. We had open looks and that was the frustration of Danella and Cerie struggling in this game,’ Dacko said.

Mosgrove had five points while Danella added three, but the Minutewomen needed these two to have a hot hand in order to win.,

But Billiken guard and A-10 scoring leader Theresa Lisch along with Woods and center Amanda Kemezys combined for 48 points, and converted from the free-throw line when they got there, and Lisch was able to create chances offensively.

‘Lisch had two 3s, and one time we’re supposed to chase on a stagger, and we don’t chase, and we get fried,’ Dacko said.

‘Another time, were supposed to hedge on a high ball screen, we don’t hedge, we get fried and she made us pay.’

Along with a solid defensive effort, the Minutewomen grabbed big rebounds, with Gerardot and Wright each having six apiece, while Young, Danella, Mosgrove and sophomore forward Valerie Avebe each had five.

‘This is the most complete game we’ve played in the A-10 as far as effort and I think where our effort was on the first half was good,’ Dacko said.

UMass came within a point of catching the Billikens at 45-44, but SLU pulled away again with nearly eight minutes to play by 12 points, and still led by nine with two minutes remaining.

With 34 seconds left, the Minutewomen pulled within six points, as Dacko called a timeout for a desperation 3-pointer meant to find Mosgrove in the corner.

Junior guard Kim Benton threw the shot up, which was no were near the hoop, as Saint Louis secured the victory.

‘It shouldn’t co
me to that play, but we were going for a 3 to tie it,’ Dacko said. ‘It should be a situation that if we make our free throws, we win the ball game.’

The Minutewomen will travel to Rhode Island Tuesday for another A-10 rival game slated for 7 p.m.

David Brinch can be reached at [email protected]