49ers roll; hand Minutewomen 5th straight loss

By Cameron McDonough

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s struggles continued Wednesday night as the Minutewomen fell on the road to Charlotte, 80-58.

UMass struggled mightily in the first half, only scoring 19 points to the 49ers 42 points. However, the Minutewomen played much better in the second half, outscoring Charlotte by a point, but the deficit was too big to overcome.

UMass’s lone bright spot was the play of junior center Jasmine Watson. She netted 24 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double.

After Watson though, the statistics dropped drastically as no other player scored in double digits. The teams leading scorer for the season, Shakia Robinson, contributed eight points and point guard Megan Zullo was held to just six. The eight points Robinson added was well below her season average as she typically totals about 12 points per game.

The 49ers got a much more even contribution as four of the five starters scored in double-digits. Junior forwards Amanda Dowe and Jennifer Hailey led the team with 13 points apiece. Dowe was also the team’s leading rebounder for the game as she pulled down 17 boards to record a double-double. Freshman guard Ayanna Holmes and junior guard Jai Forney were the other two starters in double-digits with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

One of the key disparities in the game was the bench play between the two sides as UMass only got 10 points off its bench while Charlotte squeezed out 28.

Another glaring difference was the rebounding. The 49ers outrebounded the Minutewomen 41-22. The numbers were dead-even in the turnover column however as both teams had their struggles with ball handling, committing 15 turnovers apiece.

If numbers mean anything, they show that UMass needs to adjust its defensive strategy. It allowed Charlotte to go 30-for-56 (53.6 percent) from the field and 7-for-16, (43.8 percent), from 3-point range.

The loss drops the Minutewomen to 6-16 overall and 1-6 in A-10 play while Charlotte improved to 14-8 overall, 6-2 in A-10 play. The win has the 49ers sitting in fourth place in the A-10 standings while UMass remains near the bottom tied for 12th and only one game ahead of last place Rhode Island.

UMass will try to turn things around and get momentum against La Salle on Saturday. The Explorers are a middle-of-the-pack team in the A-10 sitting in a tie for sixth place with a 10-12 overall record and 4-3 in conference.

La Salle got off to a slow start going 6-9 in its non-conference play, but the Explorers have stepped up their game in A-10 play as of late.

The Minutewomen will have to pay particular attention to redshirt junior guard Brittany Wilson, who leads the team averaging 13.9 points per game and is deadly from 3-point range. The other guard Alexis Scott is also a big scoring threat averaging 12.5 points per game.

The Explorers are also a team that attacks the boards averaging 35.6 rebounds per game as a team. The Explorers are also playing for the postseason, and a victory over UMass would all but seal their inclusion.

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_McDonough.