UM travels to DU after week-long break

By David Martin

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian
Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

As it looks to rebound from a slow start to January, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team prepares to take on a streaking Duquesne squad at the A.J. Palumbo Center tonight.

The Minutewomen (6-13, 1-3 Atlantic 10) are currently 1-4 in the month of January and have struggled to find ways to win after their four-game winning streak was snapped back on Dec. 29 with a loss to the Virginia Cavaliers.

Since the winning streak, UMass is 1-5 and has been outscored by its opponents by 101 points (399-to-298). Whether playing on the road or in the confines of the Mullins Center, the Minutewomen have consistently performed on the defensive front, yet have fallen short in terms of offensive production.

Despite juniors Jasmine Watson and Shakia Robinson combined for a 15-for-24 effort in UMass’ 80-55 loss to Dayton on Jan. 18, the rest of the team shot an anemic 6-for-30 from the floor.

The Minutewomen do, however, have multiple positive aspects to build off of heading into tonight’s game. A bye this past weekend allowed players to rest, practice and improve the areas of their games that needed addressing.

Also in line with the bye is the hopeful rest and recuperation of guard Megan Zullo. Zullo, a six-year senior, who missed the Dayton game with an illness, is fourth on the Minutewomen in scoring with 8.5 points per game, second in terms of 3-point percentage (.408) and assists (56) and is first in both 3-point attempts (98) and completions (40). Her impact on the team, both from an offensive standpoint as well as in a leadership perspective, will undoubtedly help UMass, especially in the last two minutes of the game.

Another potential strongpoint for the Minutewomen may lie in the inconsistencies of their opponents’ gameplan.

The Dukes (14-5, 2-2 A-10) have not been able to maintain a consistent identity since the tail-end of December. After winning 12 of its first 14 games, Duquesne has struggled with a 3-3 record and has not fared as well as could be expected against A-10 competition. Though they have had convincing wins against teams like Xavier and George Washington during their run, the Dukes have struggled in close games to pull ahead or to put the opposing team away when the opportunity was available.

It’s important to note  UMass’ success on the road, as compared to its performance at home. In games in which they played on their home court, the Minutewomen sport a 2-7 record. However, while playing on the road or in a neutral location, UMass owns a 4-6 record, which would suggest that the squad has an easier time finding a rhythm away from the Mullins Center.

Despite the challenges and difficulties that they have faced early on in the season, UMass is still 1-3 in the division and is more than capable of bettering itself in the standings with key wins over conference opponents.

Though the competition will be fierce, the Minutewomen have proven already this season that they can perform when put in tough positions.

David Martin can be reached at [email protected].