Huge statistical differences in both UM games

By Steve Levine

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Massachusetts women’s basketball coach Marnie Dacko said before the season began that her team’s success would rely on defense. The Minutewomen proved that point to be true on Wednesday, when they fell to St. John’s University, 82-52. UMass’ defense was weak in many aspects, specifically around the rim.

Inefficient on the glass

UMass was outrebounded, outhustled and simply outplayed in the contest, allowing the Red Storm to walk out of the Mullins Center with an easy win. The biggest aspect of the game came down to rebounding, where UMass did not have much of a presence.

“If we were able to rebound with them, we could’ve played with them,” Dacko said. “They’re very athletic and they just elevated over us.”

The Minutewomen allowed St. John’s too much room inside, where the Red Storm grabbed offensive rebounds at will. At the half, St. John’s had 13 offensive rebounds to UMass’ three. Unsurprisingly, those offensive boards lead to an abundant amount of second-chance points for St. John’s.

“We got beat in every position on the floor,” Dacko said. “We gave up two and three second chance opportunities, and that kills you. You have to get a body on somebody and then also beat them to the ball. At times we had a body on somebody but we couldn’t beat them to the ball. It was a challenge on our mental toughness and we have to get tougher mentally.”

Transition Defense

Following the first twenty minutes, Dacko tried to convince her team to erase what happened so far and focus on getting stops. However, the second half showed more of the same from the defense, which could not prevent the Red Storm from beating them in the mid-court.

“It’s hard to finish a half and come out with the same intensity in the second half when they just keep coming at you,” Dacko said.

UMass’ transition defense gave up a large amount of fast-break points throughout the match. The up-tempo style of the Red Storm proved to be too much for the Minutewomen, who failed to get back on defense numerous times after missed baskets.

“The goal going in was transition defense knowing what St. John’s does,” Dacko said. “We didn’t do a very good job of that. The credit goes to St. John’s – they were on their ‘A’ game today.”

Zone Defense

St. John’s ability to pick apart UMass’ zone defense also played a large factor in their 30-point victory. The Red Storm showed a variety of ways to score throughout the game, creating high percentage shots from inside as well as on the perimeter. St. John’s high conversion rate raised the question of why Dacko employed a zone defense.

“We didn’t match up with them body for body. They’re a great slashing team and unfortunately they were still able to slash into our zone and elevate over us,” Dacko said. “If we could have kept them on the perimeter and gained rebounding position, that would have been beneficial for us.”

Going into the match, UMass knew this match-up was going to be tough, but maybe not this tough. A thrilling overtime victory over Boston University on Sunday showed a UMass defense capable of getting stops at key moments. Wednesday’s match told a much different story.

The Minutewomen would have had a hard time stopping the Red Storm even if their defense played to its utmost capability.

Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]