UMass women’s basketball falls to Fordham in last second loss

By David Martin

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team lost to Atlantic 10 opponent Fordham at the Mullins Center Saturday in a grueling back-and-forth game that went down to the final seconds..

The Minutewomen (6-17, 1-5 A-10) swapped leads with the Rams (11-11, 2-5 A-10) several times throughout the match, and eventually trailed 54-51 with just 20 seconds remaining in the second half.

Then, with nine seconds left in the game, senior guard Megan Zullo made her second 3-pointer of the game to tie the score. Unfortunately for UMass, a defensive miscue allowed Fordham to pass the ball up the court for a last-second layup by freshman forward Emily Tapio that ensured defeat for the Minutewomen.

“I think that overall, Fordham was tougher and more physical than we were,” said UMass coach Sharon Dawley. “It is frustrating [to have Meg] make such a big shot, and then not be able to secure it for eight seconds.”

“All we had to do was play man for eight seconds and make them take a few extra dribbles and we would have had ourselves overtime,” she added. “Who knows what would have happened in overtime, but at least we would have given ourselves a better shot to win.”

At the start of the second half, the score was tied at 25-25, and remained that way for over three minutes, until the Rams were able to sink their first 3-pointer of the half. The score would remain close throughout, and would be tied seven more times before the end of the match, as both Fordham and UMass traded off several short scoring runs.

Zullo continued to cement her role on the team with another strong performance on the court. She made 4-of-6 shots from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. In addition to her 10 points, Zullo also grabbed three defensive rebounds, while also dishing three assists and blocked a shot in 40 minutes of playing time.

However, the highlight of the night for UMass was the clutch 3-pointer completed by Zullo to give the team an opportunity to send the game into overtime.

“We drew up the play for me to come off the screen, and it was a big shot,” said Zullo on the play. “I let it fly, it went in, and I guess we got a little too excited and we were not aware of the clock, which caused us to give a wide-open layup.”

Though Zullo was more concerned with the overall score than with her individual accomplishments, Dawley made sure to recognize her value and impact on the team, both in the game and as a whole throughout her time with the team.

“She is definitely clutch, but I have gotten to know her a little bit more this year, and I have to say that she is the toughest kid I know,” said Dawley about Zullo. “I cannot even begin to tell you the injuries she is playing through, some injuries that I have never even experienced before, and she just keeps going to work every day. We call her our warrior because she plays through everything and I know that she will always deliver.”

Also impressive in the game for the Minutewomen were the performances of junior forward Shakia Robinson and junior center Jasmine Watson. Robinson led UMass in scoring with 20 points and shot 9-for-14 from the floor and went 2-for-4 from the charity stripe. She also led the team in rebounds with eight. Watson, on the other hand, shot 5-for-8 from the floor and was a perfect 2-for-2 from the free-throw line for 12 points.

Overall, the Rams shot 38.3 percent from the floor, going 7-for-26 (26.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, the Minutewomen made 48 percent of their shots from the floor, and completed 3-of-9 (33.3 percent) 3-point opportunities.

Though Fordham slightly out-rebounded UMass 34-29 in total rebounds, the Rams led the Minutewomen 14-5 in offensive rebounds, a factor Dawley plans to work on in preparation for the squad’s upcoming games this week.

The team will hit the road this week to face Charlotte on Wednesday and La Salle on Saturday.

David Martin can be reached at [email protected].