Minutewomen drop close game against Hawks

By Michael Wood

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After a convincing victory against Saint Louis last Wednesday, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team blew a double-digit lead and dropped its latest game against Saint Joseph’s, 72-68, on Saturday.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

“We’ve just got to learn to finish games,” UMass assistant head coach Steve Lanpher said in a UMassathletics.com interview. “Obviously in the last few minutes we turned the ball over, didn’t execute the way we wanted to, and a great opportunity to win on the road obviously ends up being a loss.”

The Minutewomen led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but could not maintain it against a gritty Hawks squad. The loss drops UMass to 6-14 overall and 2-3 in Atlantic 10 play. Saint Joseph’s improved to 12-7 overall and 2-3 in the A-10.

The one bright spot for UMass in the loss was the play of sophomore forward Shakia Robinson. She led the Minutewomen in nearly every offensive category in the game and capitalized on defensive mismatches in the paint. Robinson, who showed flashes of her abilities earlier in the season, netted 25 points, four assists and eight rebounds.

“I thought we competed very hard and we had great individual efforts,” Lanpher said. “Obviously Shakia played a tremendous game inside.”

After trading baskets at the start of the game, senior Cerie Mosgrove hit a 3-pointer that sparked the offense to a 15-2 run and gave UMass a 13 point lead in the first half. Megan Zullo made the team’s seventh 3-pointer of the half as well, and gave the Maroon and White a 45-38 lead at the half.

“I’m really proud of our effort,” Lanpher said. “I think we came out in a hostile environment on the road and played really well. For 30 minutes we really gave them everything they wanted.”

The Hawks rallied in the second half as they went on a 16-5 run and took their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. In the next six minutes both teams traded leads until Zullo hit a jumper to give UMass a one-point advantage with under two minutes to play.

The Minutewomen appeared to have the game in hand until Samira Van Grinsven made a jumper with 45 seconds remaining to give the Hawks the lead. They went on to make three more free throws in the last 15 seconds and secure the win.

“I think that sometimes when we have a lead, we’ve got to learn to continue to be aggressive,” Lanpher said. “We were tentative in those last few minutes and we were settling for contested jumpers rather than attacking the rim.”

Mosgrove contributed her ninth consecutive game in double-figures, scoring 11 points and tallying six rebounds, and Zullo tallied 10 points and five assists.

Michelle Baker led the offense for Saint Joseph’s with 21 points, and Kelly Cavano added a double-double with 16 points and 14 boards.  

“We’ve just got to grow from this and learn from this,” Lanpher said.

“We need to learn how to do what we do,” Lanpher added. “We always want to be that fast-breaking team and once we start slowing it up we feel like we’re at a disadvantage. So I think we can learn from that and in these situations we’ve got to learn how to execute under duress and come out with the victories.”

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]