UMass women’s basketball looks to end skid against Boston University

By Joey Saade

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Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Despite her team coming up short in its two games at the Maine Invitational, Massachusetts women’’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley found some positives.

While her team suffered a 30-point loss to Maine, and lost a close overtime matchup to William & Mary over the weekend, Dawley likes the direction the Minutewomen (2-6) are heading in.

“I think we grew a lot this weekend,” she said. “We made improvements overnight. A lot of teams can’t make those improvements overnight.”

One of those improvements was the offensive output her team displayed in its 96-88 overtime loss to the Tribe. The 88 points were the most UMass has scored since the 2007-08 season. Dawley was impressed with her team’s ability to score – a trait she admits she didn’t know until their last game.

That offensive outburst was due in large part to the play of Rashida Timbilla, who scored a career-high 25 points along with 13 rebounds and six assists.

Timbilla dictated a majority of her team’s offense by bringing the ball up the floor on many possessions. Her ability to play that point forward position at times is an advantage Dawley will continue to use in the future.

“Rashida makes a heck of a point guard, when she’s called to do that she’ll do a great job,” Dawley said. “Having the ball in her hands made a difference.”

The Minutewomen will look to end their three-game skid when they host Boston University on Wednesday.

The Terriers (2-6) have been going through some growing pains as well, as the team features five underclassman.

Seniors Danielle Callahan and Rashidat Agboola anchor the BU offense while averaging 10.4 and 10.1 points respectively.

Despite the Terriers’ early struggles, Dawley knows her team is going up against a BU squad that has many upsides.

“Their strengths will be transition offense, they have a great half court zone defense and they rebound the ball really well,” she said. “I know they might be struggling right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a solid year.”

While Dawley says she’s preparing for Wednesday’s game by focusing on the Terriers, she’s also making sure her players are making their own adjustments.

The Minutewomen struggled with turnovers in their two tournament games, so ball control is an area that Dawley says her team “can control” and that it “has to start doing so.”

Another area for concern was UMass’ ability to defend the 3-point line. The Minutewomen gave up 17 3-pointers in their last two games, including 12 against Maine. With their zone defense still a work in progress, Dawley believes “key breakdowns” in big moments is a major focus her team is working on.

“Our focus right now is how to play zone and defend the three, helping but not over-helping,” she said. “It’s something we’re working on.”

Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is at 7 p.m. at Mullins Center.

Joey Saade can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jsaade1225