Minutewomen search for first win this weekend

By Michael Counos

Maria Uminski/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team is in search of its first win this weekend as it travels to South Orange, N.J. to take on LSU and Seton Hall in the Anaconda Sports SHU Classic.

The Minutewomen will matchup with LSU on Friday. The Tigers dropped their first two games of the season, losing to Northwestern, 71-62, and Ohio State, 59-55. While losing All-American Allison Hightower to graduation, the Tigers do return four of their starters from last season. Sophomore guard Adrienne Webb is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16.5 points per game, while Latear Eason is also averaging double figures with 12.0 per game. Taylor Turnbow is the Tigers’ leading rebounder, averaging seven boards per game.

“LSU is a good team that starts five unbelievably athletic players,” UMass coach Sharon Dawley said. “We need to focus on improving on our rebounding and eliminating turnovers and giving our opponents second chances.”

Against Seton Hall on Sunday, the Minutewomen will look to avenge their 79-74 loss of two seasons ago against the Pirates on Dec. 29, 2008. Seton Hall enters the weekend at 1-1 after a 64-57 loss to Florida Gulf Coast and a 72-59 win over Atlantic 10 conference foe, Temple. UMass is 2-1 in the all-time series with the Pirates.

Like UMass, Seton Hall is breaking in a new coach, Anne Donovan, as well as adding five freshmen to the roster. Three Pirates are averaging double figures in scoring to start the new season, including Jasmine Crew with 16.5 points per game, Ka-Deidre Simmons with 14.5 and junior forward Kandice Green with 11.5. Green led the Pirates in rebounding and was second in scoring last season, as she and sophomore forward Terry Green are the only returning starters this year.

UMass is coming off a disappointing opening weekend in which it dropped its home-opener to George Mason on Friday, 60-55, at the Mullins Center and a cold first half ended in a 71-48 shellacking by Providence last Sunday.

Despite the losses, multiple Minutewomen made an immediate impact to begin the season under the new playing style of Dawley. Seniors Cerie Mosgrove and Megan Zullo have played nearly the entire game in both contests. Mosgrove leads the team in points with 13.5 per game, while Zullo set a new Mullins Center record in assists against George Mason with 13, topping her previous career-high of seven.

“In practice we are just always constantly trying to improve and focus on getting better,” Dawley said.

Freshman Talen Watson has started the first two games of her collegiate career, scoring six points against George Mason, while freshman Sara English also made her collegiate debut coming off the bench in that game.

The Minutewomen have a young roster, with nine of 13 players being a sophomore or junior. Despite the inexperience, they do have a bounty of talent, with three of UMass’ all-time leading 3-point shooters on the roster. Mosgrove, Zullo and senior Stephanie Lawrence will be a key factor in the UMass offense as Dawley has made a point to get them open looks and take advantage of their talent.

The Minutewomen get started against the Tigers at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, before facing off against the Pirates on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. as well.

Michael Counos can be reached at [email protected]