Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass travels to the Buckeye State for battles against Ohio and Miami (Ohio)

Bryn Rothschild-Shea/Collegian

A change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered.

After going winless in a two-game homestand against Hartford and Holy Cross, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team leaves the Mullins Center for the Buckeye State as it squares off against Ohio and Miami (Ohio) on Thursday morning and Saturday afternoon, respectively.

Outscored 134-124 in their last two contests, the Minutewomen (1-5) come in as losers of five straight, while the Bobcats (1-3) come into the game on a three-game losing streak after recording their only win on Nov. 13.

UMass coach Sharon Dawley said that dwelling on her team’s losing streak is something that can ruin a mental edge for the players on her squad.

“You can’t let that enter into your thinking,” she said. “I think it puts too much stress on the kids, you just go into the next game (knowing) what we have to watch out for. You go game-to-game like you always do.”

Attempting to halt the Minutewomen’s hopes at a win will be Ohio’s leading scorer, junior guard Shavon Robinson. With 50 points through four games, Robinson is joined on the attack by the duo of sophomore guard Mariah Byard and senior forward Tina Fisher, who’ve totaled 60 points combined this season.

Powering UMass on the offensive end is senior center Jasmine Watson with 95 total points for the season, while guards  Emily Mital and Rashida Timbilla follow closely behind with 73 and 59 points each.

After focusing on execution, Dawley said strong zone defense has to be prioritized for future success.

“We’ve gotten much better at our execution,” Dawley said. “In our last game, I think zone defense – they stopped us from running, stopped us in our tracks and we stood a lot as opposed to just playing quickly and cutting hard in the half court. We spent most of (practice) treating the zone as we would man-to-man, where we just get after it and move the ball.”

Dawley also stressed the importance of minimizing turnovers during crucial moments in games.

“Our turnovers are way down considering where we were and I feel like now our mistakes, although they’re less, are coming at really bad times,” she said. “Three turnovers at the end of a game cost us so we need to learn to finish the job, make big plays and get a lead without getting into foul trouble and turning the ball over.”

Readying for the RedHawks

The Minutewomen will have an even greater challenge in Oxford, Ohio, when they visit Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.

The RedHawks (3-3) head into the match against UMass having lost two consecutive games after falling to Kentucky Wednesday afternoon.

Seniors Courtney Osborn, a guard, and Kirsten Olowinski, a forward, and junior forward Erica Almady provide the most prominent threats for Miami’s opposition as the leading scorers early on this season

With the Minutewomen’s offense keeping them in games recently, Dawley predicts continued production by the upperclassman that are leaders on the team, especially Mital who has found her rhythm since returning from a  back injury.

“We’re getting much better,” Dawley said. “Tex is playing really well so that’s going to help us down the road.”

Thursday’s tip off against the Bobcats is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., while Saturday’s game is slated for 2 p.m.


Peter Cappiello can be reached at pc[email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cappiello.


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