UMass women’s basketball returns home to host Richmond

By Jesse Mayfield Sheehan

UMass' Kim Pierre-Louis takes a layup with no pressure on her in the Feb. 8 game against Richmond. (Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)
UMass’ Kim Pierre-Louis takes a layup with no pressure on her in the Feb. 8 game against Richmond. (Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

After a tough trip down to Virginia, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team returns to Amherst on Wednesday night to host Richmond with the hope of ending its 16-game losing streak.

The Spiders (11-14, 5-7 Atlantic 10) will try to rebound from a road loss to No. 25 Dayton.

Richmond is led offensively by redshirt junior forward Genevieve Okoro, who is averaging 11.7 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game. The team is without freshman star Olivia Healy, who led the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game, ever since she tore her right ACL in a game against Saint Louis in January.

The Spiders have one of the weaker offenses in the A-10, scoring 63 points per game, which ranks ninth in the conference. But the team has one of the stronger defenses, allowing just 63.5 points per game, ranking fifth in the conference.

UMass coach Sharon Dawley said the Minutewomen (3-23, 0-12 A-10) are preparing for the different game plans Richmond will throw at them.

“We play man (defense), they historically have played a five out motion, a really smart and crafty motion,” she said. “So that will be something that we’ve obviously got to work on.

“We have to work on our zone offense, we predict that they’ll play us a lot in a zone, so we have to work on that.”

UMass is still looking for its first conference win and hoping to snap a 16-game losing streak. The team has shown small signs of improving offensively, scoring at least 64 points in four of its last five games.

Dawley said she thinks the team is improving and leading scorer Kim Pierre-Louis is getting more opportunities to score, but said she’d like to see more players on the team playing more aggressively.

“I think we’ve been more aggressive offensively, I think we’ve been doing a better job offensively,” she said. “But we’ve got to add a few more pieces if we want to continue to get better there.”

Dawley thinks if the team can make strides defensively, where it is currently giving up 79.8 points per game, then it can turn those improved offensive performances into wins, and she said the team is working to do just that.

“(Monday) we focused on what has been our problem, which is transition defense and boxing out,” she said. “Those two areas look much, much better than they have, so I’m excited about that.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at [email protected] and can be followed on Twitter @jgms88.