Minutewomen attempt to repeat in the Brown Bear Classic

By Neil Carroll

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whoopsAThis weekend, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team will travel to Providence, R.I. and attempt to win the Brown Bear Classic for the second year in a row.

The Minutewomen (3-4) will face off against Brown on Saturday at 1 p.m., and either Morgan State or Quinnipiac on Sunday. Last year as a sophomore, Cerie Mosgrove led the Minutewomen in the Brown Bear Classic and was named to the all-tournament team.

“They crash the boards,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said. “That’s been a consistent factor for us in the losses – so we’ve got to be aware of that.”

Brown comes into the weekend with a record of 2-5 on the season, after an 87-58 loss to Boston University on Wednesday night. The Bears play in the Ivy League, but share a mutual opponent with UMass. The Minutewomen beat BU, 79-73, in overtime in their home opener this season.

The Bears also venture into Saturday’s clash with UMass in the midst of a three-game losing skid with losses to Seton Hall, Long Island, and BU.

Brown is led in scoring by senior point guard Christina Johnson, who averages 11.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in one start, and boasts a 91 free-throw percentage in 35 attempts on the season.

Coach Dacko also said that the Minutewomen have to prepare for a Brown squad that has been known to press opponents and then revert to a zone set in the half-court defense. UMass struggled against the press in losses to New Hampshire and Northeastern this season.

UMass is currently coming off a tough 73-64 loss to the Huskies. Although the Minutewomen shot 47 percent from the field, Northeastern was able to score 20 points off of UMass turnovers and win the contest.

Forward Nicole Jones is having a spectacular start to her sophomore season and enters the weekend averaging 11.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

While Jones is shooting 62 percent from the field on 50 shots, she is shooting 50 percent from the free-throw line. She and fellow sophomore Kristina Danella (15.0 points 6.0 rebounds) are the only Minutewomen who are averaging in double figures in points on the season.

This year’s squad is still trying to find its rhythm in the young season. Freshman guard Dee Montgomery had a standout performance in the loss to the Huskies by scoring in double digits for the first time in her career, but has sparingly seen time in seven games due to injury.

“We’ve had so many different combinations that we’re not settled into a specific continuity so I think that’s something we’ve got to work on,” Dacko said.

Depending on the outcome of their first game, the Minutewomen could face either Morgan State or Quinnipiac on Sunday.

Morgan State plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and is 3-3 on the season. The Bears are coming off of an 83-74 victory over Murray State in the Georgia State Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. They have had seven days to rest since the win, but will play Quinnipiac on Saturday.

Guard Corin Adams leads Morgan State on offense in averaging 19.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in six contests. The Bears also have a solid option in the frontcourt with Georgien Willams, who averages 11.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Quinnipiac is 1-3 on the season and boasts a more balanced offensive attack. The Bobcats go into the weekend tournament with two players averaging in double figures in points, and two other players averaging at least 9.0 points per game.

However, Quinnipiac is shooting 34 percent from the field, and has turned the ball over 82 times in four games.

Neil Carroll can be reached at [email protected]