Women’s basketball heads to St. Louis

By Cameron McDonough

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Em Bhoo/Collegian

Em Bhoo/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team heads to Saint Louis this afternoon to face the Billikens in a matchup between two struggling programs in desperate need of a conference win.

Saint Louis (8-17, 2-8 Atlantic 10) is currently tied for 11th place in the A-10, followed closely by the Minutewomen (6-19, 1-9 A-10), who stand alone in 13th place.

UMass has lost eight games in a row and this contest could be a golden opportunity for it to add a win to its résumé.

The Minutewomen are coming off of a road loss to Temple, 77-50, on Saturday. Two UMass players were able to reach double digits in scoring in the game – Shakia Robinson with 10 points and Jasmine Watson with 13. Watson also led the team with six rebounds.

The Minutewomen have been struggling on the boards as of late and that continued against the Owls, as UMass hauled in 34 boards to Temple’s 39. Among those 39 rebounds, 17 were offensive boards, which created big second chance opportunities for the Owls.

Furthermore, the Minutewomen only made one 3-point shot, going 1-for-7 from downtown in the game. UMass had been averaging just more than five 3-point baskets a game prior to Saturday’s performance. The 3-point shot is an essential part to the Minutewomen’s strategy and they will have to start shooting better from long distance against the Billikens in order to get a different result.

UMass relies on the long distance shooting of Megan Zullo and Emilie Teuscher, who are both averaging  40 percent or greater from behind the arc on the season. However against Temple, Zullo nor Teuscher could cash in on their single 3-point attempts.

Meanwhile, Saint Louis has struggled from 3-point range all season with its best long distance shooter being Courtney Webb, who has connected on 33.7 percent of her attempts. Webb also leads the team with her 10.9 points per game.

The bigger problem for the Minutewomen, however, may be the battle down low as the Billikens have two players that average over seven rebounds per contest and, as a team, grab 41.2 boards per game.

Watson, who averages 7.7 rebounds per game to lead the UMass squad, will have to compete with Saint Louis’ Lorreal Jones and Mallory Eggert on the glass. Also, the Minutewomen’s leading scorer, Robinson, gets most of her points in the paint and will have to compete with Jones and Eggert down low on the offensive end as well.

The Billikens are coming off a loss of their own, a 69-50 defeat at Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks shot 46 percent from the field, made three more 3-pointers than Saint Louis and put together a stellar defensive performance to lead Saint Joseph’s to the victory.

This winning strategy will be tough for UMass to follow because it is giving up 66.4 points per game while only scoring 57.

Another scoring threat for the Billikens that the Minutewomen will have to keep their eye on is Desirae Ball, who is coming off an impressive 14-point night against the Hawks. Ball is currently second in scoring for Saint Louis, averaging 9.4 points per game.

The game is scheduled for an early 1 p.m. start this afternoon.

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