Minutewomen drop final game at Mullins Center to Explorers

By Michael Wood

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The Massachusetts women’s basketball team could not overcome a late push by La Salle in the second half Saturday and ultimately fell, 67-63, in a back-and-forth game on senior day at the Mullins Center.

“I thought we played a great game in terms of effort and in terms of defense,” UMass head coach Sharon Dawley said in an interview with UMass Media Relations. “We just needed to have more composure down the stretch. We missed some key bunnies and the 3-point shot that [La Salle] made was the shot that broke our back.”

Seniors Cerie Mosgrove, Megan Zullo and Stephanie Lawrence enjoyed a short ceremony before the game, during which the athletic department and the rest of the team recognized their contributions.

“They’ve had a great year,” Dawley said. “All three come into work every day with a great attitude. [Lawrence] has done a great job for us at two different positions. Meg is a leader as well as a phenomenal shooter, [and] she’s had a great season for us. Cerie, being a phenomenal shooter for us, really came on as one of the best rebounders we have and really [is] up there nationally with her 3-point shooting. I think she’s had a tremendous season.”

The Minutewomen came out in the first half and jumped out to an early lead, in large part because of the play of sophomore forward Jasmine Watson, who netted 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and had one blocked shot. However, the Explorers  answered each of the Minutewomen’s offensive attacks and kept the game close throughout the period. Alexis Scott led the Explorers in points in the first half, tallying 11, while Nadia Duncan and Ebonee Jones each added six.

The tension mounted as time went on and the two squads were never separated by more than seven points at any time in the contest.

After trailing, 34-31, at the break, the Explorers pushed their lead up to six in the second half, but the Maroon and White used a 7-0 run to take back the lead. Shakia Robinson’s 3-point play then put the Minutewomen up four with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation.

The teams traded baskets for the next nine minutes, never pulling apart by more than two points. Watson converted on a free-throw attempt to tie the score at 60 with just over four minutes to play, and for the next three minutes, neither scored a basket.

With 17 seconds on the clock, Michea Bryant took a pass beyond the arc and netted a 3-pointer to give the Explorers the lead and, after a subsequent foul shot, La Salle went up by four and held the ball until time expired.

“Had that shot not gotten off and [had they] not made that [3-pointer], we may have had a different outcome,” Dawley said.

The Minutewomen close out the regular season at 7-22 and 3-11 in the Atlantic 10, while the Explorers improve to 10-19 overall and 6-8 in conference play. With a bid in the A-10 tournament, UMass will travel to Lowell on Friday for its next game. Seedings and opponents have not been announced for the tournament as of yet.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]