Minutewomen drop first game of 2009-10

By Mike Mastone

Maxwell Sparr
Maxwell Sparr

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team fell short in a bid to upset St. John’s University, with the Minutewomen unable to match the speed and physicality of the Red Storm.

St. John’s overpowered the Minutewomen on the offensive glass and took advantage of a flurry of UMass turnovers.  An imposing man-to-man defense forced UMass to commit 27 turnovers, which led to 35 Red Storm points.  UMass also had trouble boxing out St. John’s, with the Minutewomen being outrebounded 21-12 on the offensive end.

Sophomore Kristina Danella scored the first basket of the game to give UMass their first lead. The Minutewomen extended the lead to 7-4 following a field goal and free throw from Danella and a layup from senior Diatiema Hill.

The Minutewomen were able to cut the lead to five on two occasions, and trailed 19-14 following a pair of free-throws by freshman center Jasmine Watson.  St. John’s closed out the first half with a 20-9 run over the period’s final 10:41.

Throughout the first half, UMass tried to get the ball into the paint, but was unsuccessful in most of their attempts.  Freshmen Shakia Robinson and Watson were able to create their own shots, but were unable to finish near the rim.

The Minutewomen also had a tough time getting open on the perimeter due to a tight man-to-man defense by St. John’s.  Danella was the only player who was consistent offensively in the first half, finishing the period with three made field goals on five attempts for a total of 10 points.

Meanwhile, St. John’s successfully cut through the UMass zone and pounded the ball in the paint.  The Red Storm finished the first half with a 20-12 advantage in points in the paint, while proving to be effective in the transition game with six fast break points.

“If we were able to…rebound with [St. John’s], I thought it’d give us an opportunity to play with [them],” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said.  “I think giving up 14 offensive boards in the first half; we just didn’t have the touches.  Their perimeter pressure hurt us, and I think we have to use this game as a learning tool to move forward and understand how important the value of rebounding is.”

UMass came out looking strong on the defensive end in the first few minutes of the second half and forced St. John’s into several bad shots, but the Minutewomen could not sustain the same level of play for the rest of the period.  The closest UMass got in the second half was when they trailed 48-35 with 13:02 remaining.

St. John’s then went on a 25-8 run to push their lead to 30, with Stevens pacing the Red Storm offense with nine points over that span, while  UMass could not come up with any answers on either side of the ball.  Sophomore Nicole Jones made a layup with 31 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 28, but sophomore Britney Murphy responded with a layup just as time expired to give St. John’s an 82-52 victory.

Danella led UMass in scoring for the second game in a row with 16 points, and also led the team with seven rebounds.  Watson also has a strong outing with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, while junior Ceria Mosgrove set a new career-high with six rebounds, finishing 2-of-5 from beyond the arch and totaling six points.

The Minutewomen will try to turn things around when they travel to New Hampshire on Friday.  Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Lundholm Gym in Durham.

Mike Mastone can be reached at [email protected]