UMass battling injury bug

By Steve Levine

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Maxwell Sparr / Collegian

Maxwell Sparr

As of two weeks ago, a total of five players have struggled with injuries.

It started two weeks ago against Saint Louis, when the Minutewomen were forced to play against the Billikens without star player Kristina Danella. The sophomore injured her ankle prior to the game, but the Minutewomen (7-12, 1-3 Atlantic 10) came away with a 62-59 victory. The victory was bittersweet, though, as freshman standout Jasmine Watson suffered an ankle injury of her own. 

Although Watson came back strong with 19 points in UMass’ next game against Richmond, Danella continued to miss time and UMass went on to lose, 73-62.

UMass had both players back for their last game against A-10 leading Duquesne, but lost forward Stephanie Lawrence when she also injured her ankle. UMass lost in overtime, 63-54.

“Lawrence tried to score against Duquesne and went down,” UMass coach Marnie Dacko said. “We were making a nice comeback and she was playing great, but she hasn’t practiced since.”

Continuing the injury barrage was Kim Benton who fell ill before the Duquesne game. Benton registered 15 minutes of play, but no points. Dacko figures to have her back in the starting lineup for UMass’ next game against George Washington on Jan. 27.

“It will be nice when we’re at full strength, but the team has been extremely resilient,” Dacko said. “We’re right there and we just have to get over the hump. I’m hoping we can have Watson and Danella for the George Washington game. Kids that get hurt have to get used to playing with a little pain as well.”

The most serious injury belongs to freshman guard Dee Montgomery, who suffered a concussion during the team’s first practice. She received some playing time, but has yet to be completely healthy.

Montgomery’s injury has had a ripple effect throughout the roster, especially in the backcourt. The guard positions have struggled to produce all season, and Montgomery’s absence puts added strain on the healthy guards.

Overall, the plague of injuries has given the roster’s non-starters additional minutes on the court.

“I think there’s added pressure,” Dacko said. “But you know, when one door closes, another one opens. It gives another opportunity for somebody else. When Danella went down, Steph Lawrence came in and did a great job and so did Diatema [Hill]. Heart beats talent when talent doesn’t have any heart. If we can get these kids to play with a lot of heart, I think we’ll be fine.”

Today, the Minutewomen look to field a much healthier roster against George Washington, which sits very low in the A-10 standings.

Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]