Minutewomen drop fifth-straight game to 49ers

By Michael Wood

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Maria Uminski/Collegian

Maria Uminski/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team didn’t score a point until almost five minutes into Saturday’s game against Charlotte, and found itself trailing by double-digits all afternoon en route to an 80-53 loss.

“They’re one of the best teams in the [Atlantic 10],” UMass associate head coach Steve Lanpher said. “We’re young and we’ve just got to be able to learn from this.”

Charlotte came out in a full-court press to start the game and wreaked havoc on UMass’ offensive plan. The Minutewomen turned the ball over 12 times in the first half alone and allowed seven points off those turnovers. The 49ers started the contest on a 9-0 run before they allowed a basket and pushed their lead to double-digits soon thereafter. Trailing by as many as 35 points in the game, UMass could not keep up.

“They just sped us up,” said Lanpher. “We were reacting to their offense too much instead of executing, and they forced turnovers. We missed some early shots and they made some early baskets. Against a team like that, you’ve got to be able to handle their pressure, and we needed to be able to go inside and score on them, and we didn’t do that.”

The UMass offense struggled all game long, looking out-of-place, slow and disorganized. The 49ers’ defense proved too great, as they allowed only Cerie Mosgrove and Jasmine Watson to reach double-figures.

Mosgrove led the offense, netting 18 points and four offensive rebounds. She shot just over 50 percent from the floor and converted on 3-of-5 three pointers and all five of her free throws. Watson tallied 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Turnovers continued to be a problem for the Maroon and White. In one game earlier in the season, the Minutewomen turned the ball over a season-high 32 times and since then, the team has had trouble holding onto the ball. Against Charlotte, the team turned the ball over 12 times in the first half alone.

“With our inexperience, that’s kind of an issue for us,” Lanpher said. “We continue to practice against it and take care of the basketball, but that’s going to be an issue for us, especially against all the heavyweights. When you play the best, you’ve got to be able to take care of the basketball.”

“For us to be successful, we can’t turn the ball over more than 12-14 times,” Lanpher added.

Jennifer Hailey led the 49ers’ offensive attack, which saw four players score at least 10 points. Hailey recorded a double-double, netting 12 points and 11 rebounds. Shannon McCallum also scored 18 points and handed out three assists.

“We’ve got to be able to fight through this tough stretch of games,” Lanpher said. “We’re almost through it. Obviously we’ve got a great team in Dayton on Wednesday night, but then we’ve got games that, we feel like if we play well, we can win.”

“If you look at the A-10 standings, there are the top six and then everybody else,” he said. “So we’ve got a chance, if we can win three or four games, to be able to get into that eighth or ninth spot. That’s where we want to be.”

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]