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 women’s basketball uses size and speed en route to its first win against Maine

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team typically enters games at a size disadvantage, despite featuring a front-court trio of Kim Pierre-Louis, Rashida Timbilla and Kymber Hill.
Wednesday night’s victory over Maine sang a different tune for the squad ,however, as the team used its rare size advantage in its 68-60 win against the Black Bears in the Minutewomen’s home opener.

Normally, tight defense and forcing turnovers is what keeps the Minutewomen in games for a chance to win. This game was different, as the host team attacked the basket early and often with its size that helped it acquire its first lead with 13 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the first half, and maintained it for the rest of the contest. That size, of course, translated into tougher defense as well.

“I thought it was a great team effort, especially with the (starting front-court trio),” head coach Sharon Dawley said. “I thought [Pierre-Louis] was phenomenal from steals to showing off her speed and strength. (Timbilla) had great defense and assists like crazy, and [Hill] with the boards, cleaning it up for us.”

The inside game proved to be a key strength for UMass, as its only players to score in double-figures were the front-court starters, who scored the bulk of their points in the paint. Scoring just six points in the first half, Pierre-Louis had a big second half to lead the way for the Minutewomen, finishing with 19 points as she started a scoring pattern that turned into a team total 34 points in the paint.

“I saw that I was struggling shooting-wise (in the first half),” Pierre-Louis said. “Coach was telling me to be more aggressive (with) driving and posting up – that got me some looks at free throws. I just listened to coach.”

Whenever UMass wasn’t scoring in the paint or inside the 3-point line, it earned looks at the free-throw line, as Maine committed 22 fouls. In its previous two games, the Minutewomen shot just 61.5 percent from the charity stripe. UMass missed 11 free throws in its last game and lost by two points to Central Michigan. On Wednesday, the Minutewomen shot 16-of-21 from the line for an improved 76 percent.

“We’ve been taking a lot of free throws aside from practice,” Dawley said. “It’s showing (in the game). It’s definitely an improvement from where we were. In Sunday’s game, we made more free throws than Central (Michigan) took, and that’s something we want to keep doing.”

On the defensive end, UMass allowed only 16 points in the paint. The Minutewomen gave more open looks outside the area, which forced Maine to shoot 36 3-point attempts. UMass’ size was the dominant factor in the win, but Dawley feels that speed played a large factor as well.

“There was a speed advantage,” she said. “I think that’s where we really took over. Kim’s speed down low, Kymber had a good first step. I thought that was our advantage.”

As for the amount of 3-point attempts Maine was able to get off, Dawley feels that limiting that number is something the team needs to improve on. Overall though, she feels content with where the team stands.
“Their advantage was shooting from three,” she said. “There are things we need to work on, man-to-man-wise, switching-wise that we need to do better. For the third game, I’m pretty happy where we are.”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected].

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