Montgomery contributing in 2nd year with Minutewomen

By Michael Wood

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Only a year-and-a-half into her career as a member of the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, guard Dee Montgomery has quickly evolved from a strong bench player to a consistent starter.

Montgomery did not play much her freshman season at UMass, only substituting in at the end of games, or entering for a few short minutes to spell a worn-out starter. She appeared in 17 games and accumulated only 147 minutes of play.

In the 17 games where she saw time last year, she recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds, 14 assists and six steals.

With more experience and better mechanics, she’s easily surpassed each of those totals in Atlantic 10 play alone this season.

Montgomery has not only played in all 10 A-10 games this season, she’s been a starter and a mainstay on the court throughout the entirety of each contest. Of those 10 games, she has played more than 20 minutes in five of them and at least 15 minutes in all but one. She has logged 194 minutes thus far and still has an additional four games left to play before the conference tournament begins.

Looking at only conference statistics, this season shows Montgomery’s evolution as a player. She has nearly tripled her point total from all of last and more than doubled her total rebounds (37) and assists (29).

Montgomery’s two best performances this year have come within the last three games, another sign that she is getting better with each passing week. In an 84-79 loss to Duquesne, she netted 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists. That scoring total is just shy of her career best (16), which she also achieved this season.

On Wednesday, Montgomery was instrumental in the Minutewomen’s rebounding scheme, and fell just two-points short of her first career double-double. She grabbed 13 rebounds, netted eight points and handed out five assists in UMass’s 66-58 loss.

“[Dee] was outstanding,” UMass associate coach Steve Lanpher told UMass Athletics Tuesday. “We talked a lot in the last couple games [about rebounding] and we did that [today]. To finish possessions off, you have to secure the rebounding. Dee Montgomery did an unbelievable job getting, what I assume is a career-high 13 rebounds today. It was an outstanding effort.”

Hanging onto the ball is Montgomery’s biggest problem at this point. Through all 10 conference games this season, Montgomery has turned the ball over more than 25 times, an average of almost three turnovers per game. She has never had a game in which she has not given the ball away at least once, and on three occasions, she has turned the basketball over four times.

If the postseason began today, UMass would just barely be in playoff contention, sitting in 12th place. The Maroon and White have four remaining conference games and would need to win two out of their last four games to have hopes of qualifying for the A-10 tournament. Twelve out of the 14 teams in the A-10 qualify for the tournament.

Montgomery figures to be a big part of the team’s offensive plans, as  her rebounding skills will benefit a squad which has seen trouble scoring. If she continues to play well, the Minutewomen could surprise some teams at the tail-end of their schedule, and any momentum they generate could carry forward into postseason play.

“We’ve got four winnable games at the end of the year to move up in the A-10 and hopefully be ready to go in the A-10 tournament,” Lanpher said.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]