Minutewomen drop another game on the road

By David Martin

Em Bhoo/Collegian

Despite completing over 50 percent of its 3-point attempts and an impressive 21-point effort by senior guard Megan Zullo, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team could not overcome Atlantic 10 opponent Duquesne, losing 76-62 at the A.J. Palumbo Center last night.

The Minutewomen (6-14, 1-4 A-10) were unable to keep pace with the Dukes (15-5, 3-2 A-10) in the second half, as Duquesne was able to string together sustained scoring runs that kept UMass out of the lead for the remainder of the game.

“I thought our effort was good and our defense was good,” said UMass coach Sharon Dawley in an interview with umassathletics.com. “I thought we came out playing one of our better games [of the season]. But, down by two at half, I think we came out a little flat, or tentative, in the second half, and I think their run kind of drained us [at the start].”

With the score at 32-30 in the Dukes’ favor at the end of the first half, they went on to build a 9-0 run and eventually outscored the Minutewomen, 22-8, in the first eight minutes of the second half. From that point on, Duquesne would not lead by less than double-digits for the remainder of the match, despite a late-game effort put forth by the UMass offense.

At the start of the game, the Minutewomen jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and led the Dukes, 22-19, with just over six minutes remaining before halftime. However, thanks to a time-out call by Duquesne, the Dukes were able to collect themselves and pull off an 11-0 run that helped to put them ahead, 32-30, going into the intermission.

“I loved the effort, I thought we did a great job full-man,” said Dawley. “We got some deflections that led to some layups that we needed at the time. There was also a great effort from the bench. I thought that [freshman forward] Kim [Pierre-Louis] did an outstanding job for us … and that Meg was hot early, but we just needed a couple more kids to heat up.”

With the win, the Dukes not only advance their own rank within the A-10 standings, but also retain a perfect 11-0 home record, which ranks amongst the top of the conference.

UMass received a much-needed offensive jumpstart from Zullo, who missed the squad’s last game due to an illness. Her 21-point performance was a season high and was her fifth 20-point game of her collegiate career, according to UMass Athletics. Zullo also netted 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, tying the program’s single-game record. She also finished with three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 39 minutes of playing time.

“Meg has been hitting the threes and has the assists, no turnovers, and has played smart,” said Dawley, when asked about Zullo’s memorable performance. “I think the best part of her game was her leadership today. She was fired up, she was pumped, and she kept everyone positive and going. We had said in the locker room that, if we had five people on the court talking like her, we would be a whole lot better.”

After the final buzzer sounded, the Minutewomen had shot 40.4 percent (21-for-52) from the floor, including an impressive 50 percent (11-for-22) effort in the first half. UMass also shot 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) from beyond the arc and shot 12-for-21 at the charity stripe, good for 57.1 percent. Meanwhile, Duquesne ended the night shooting 28-for-60 overall (46.7 percent) while also shooting 31.3 percent (5-for-16) from 3-point range and converted 15-for-20 (75 percent) at the free-point line.

Though they were unable to walk away with the win, the Minutewomen still have an impressive performance to build off of as they prepare to take on Fordham on Saturday evening as part of a double-header with the men’s basketball team at the Mullins Center.

The Rams (10-11, 1-5 A-10) have been struggling as of late and have only been able to muster a 3-7 record in their past 10 games. Fordham is 5-5 both at home and on the road this season, and though it is only a game behind UMass in conference play, it still has a better overall record than the Minutewomen..

David Martin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Martin.