Minutewomen struggle over break to 2-5 record

By Neil Carroll

whoopCWinter break was not easy on the Massachusetts women’s basketball team as it went 2-5 including a four-game losing streak. Here is a recap of the Minutewomen’s (7-11, 1-2 Atlantic 10) games over break.

Jan. 16: Richmond 73 – UMass 62

Although Kristina Danella played in the game, she was not at full strength, and the UMass offense could not match Richmond’s attack, falling to 1-2 in the A-10.

Danella was hesitant on her ankle but managed to still score 12 points for the lacking offense. Brittani Shells ran through UMass’ zone defense and finished the game with 22 points and four assists.

In the third start of her collegiate career, freshman Jasmine Watson was the only legitimate offensive threat for UMass. She racked up 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

As UMass tried to get their shooters going, Megan Zullo had 11 points and seven assists but was 3-of-8 from 3-point range.

Jan. 13: UMass 62 – SLU 59

Coming into the game the Minutewomen knew they would be without their leading scorer Danella, who injured her ankle a day before in practice, but showed a lot of heart against the Billikens.

Diatiema Hill came up huge for UMass by setting a new career high with 26 points in the overtime win. She also added 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists and carried the offense in Danella’s absence.

UMass let up a second-half lead to Saint Louis, culminating with a 3-point shot by Katie Paganelli with three seconds left in regulation. However, the team rallied in overtime around Hill and came away with their first win of 2010.

Jan. 9: URI 58 – UMass 57

Rhode Island took the victory in UMass’ A-10 season opener, 58-57, thanks to a layup by Anisha Wilson with 33 seconds remaining in the second half.

Wilson’s game-winning bucket came off of a steal she made while UMass had the lead. She finished the game with 11 points, five steals and five assists.

Danella had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds and shot 3-of-4 from 3-point distance. Watson had 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Hill added 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists.

The Ram’s Lindsay Harris led URI in scoring with 14 points but also pulled down nine rebounds.

Jan. 6: Harvard 72 – UMass 60

Watson received the first start of her collegiate basketball career; however, UMass fell to the Crimson’s spot-on shooting (72-60) at home.

In the first half, Harvard shot 58.8 percent from 3-point range and forced the Minutewomen play catch up as they fell behind 46-29 at halftime.

Watson had 13 points and 10 rebounds to log the first double-double of her career. Danella added 19 points and seven rebounds but was second in scoring to Nicole Jones, who had 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the free-throw line.

UMass put together a 25-12 run over a period of eight minutes in the second half but could not comeback.

Jan. 3: Maine 65 – UMass 49

In the first game of 2010, Maine pulled off an upset over UMass at the Mullins Center as the Blackbear’s Amanda Tewksbury shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range and had 24 points to go along with nine assists.

Danella was the high scorer for the Minutewomen with 12 points, and the team struggled to get things going on offense. Jones and Watson also scored in double digits for UMass with 11 and 10 points respectively.

UMass was outscored 20-11 in bench points, and the team was held to under 50 points for the third time this season.

Dec. 30: Delaware 57 – UMass 55

In front of a crowd of 2,938 at the Bob Carpenter Center, UMass battled but lost against Elena Delle Donne and the Delaware Blue Hens 57-55, thanks to a last-second shot by the transfer from UConn.

Delle Donne is one of the most highly touted women’s basketball players in the nation and proved why by putting up 21 points and 11 rebounds against the Minutewomen. UMass limited the 6-foot-5 forward in the first half, but Delle Donne banked in a jumper with 4.3 seconds remaining to seal Delaware’s victory.

Zullo led the Minutewomen with 15 points, and it was her lob pass to Jones with 30 seconds left that set up Jones with a perfect lane to the basket, tying the game at 55.

After Delle Donne’s game-winning shot, UMass worked the ball down court, but a Kim Benton 3-point shot did not fall in the waning seconds of the contest.

Dec. 20: UMass 70 – NJIT 59

The Minutewomen were led by the starting five as Danella, Jones, Zullo and Hill all scored in double digits and UMass pulled away with a victory on the road.

Zullo once again lit up the scoreboard with her 3-point shooting, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. However, NJIT’s Jessica Gerald kept the Highlanders in the game and battled Zullo by converting 4-of-12 3-point attempts. Gerald finished with 24 points to lead NJIT.

Hill also had a big game for UMass, recording her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Neil Carroll can be reached at [email protected]