UMass women’s basketball handles American, 71-61

By Arthur Hayden

Photo by Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian
Photo by Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

Only eight games into the season, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team matched its win total from last season by defeating American University on Saturday afternoon, 71-61.

Kim Pierre-Louis led the Minutewomen in scoring once again, recording a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds on the night, despite only playing 23 minutes. Fueled by a strong defensive effort throughout, UMass (4-4) grounded an Eagles squad that came into the Mullins Center on a three-game win streak.

“I think we did an overall good job defending their sets,” UMass coach Sharon Dawley, “The defensive intensity was so high and the game was played at such a pace that we were winded, and we’re in really good shape.”

UMass led by as much as 16 points in the seconds half, after Pierre-Louis put back an offensive rebound with six minutes, 10 seconds left.

The Eagles cut the lead to as little as eight in the final minutes, but could not overcome the deficit built up throughout the first part of the half and the Minutewomen secured the win, climbing back to a .500 record.

The Minutewomen pulled away in the second half thanks to 36 combined points between Pierre-Louis, Cierra Dillard and forward Kymber Hill. Hill’s development has also been key to UMass’ resurgence this year. She is averaging over five rebounds per contest and posted six on Saturday alongside eight points. Five of those rebounds came on the offensive end of the floor, providing critical second-chances for the Minutewomen.

Down one with fifteen seconds left in the first half, UMass came out of a timeout and got the ball to guard Dillard, one of the primary ball handlers for the Minutewomen this season. As the clock wound down, Dillard sank a three, putting her team up 26-24; UMass would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the night.

The freshman Dillard trails only Pierre-Louis and Timbilla in points per game and has already developed into UMass’ go-to guard with only eight collegiate games under her belt.

“It’s of course a big adjustment period from high school to college with any player,” Dillard said. “I have great teammates and they made the adjustment better for me. They give me the confidence, as well as the coaching staff, to come in and just get ready to play my game, to help the team get the win.”

Timbilla also played well for the Minutewomen. On pace for a triple-double after the first half, she finished just shy, recording eight points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in a team-high 36 minutes.

“When I’m aggressive, all other parts of my game come naturally,” Timbilla said.

The scouting report for American had one; Eagles senior Jen Dumiak came into the game leading her team in points, rebounds, assists, and minutes per game. Dumiak scored 10 points in American’s 82-59 trouncing of the Minutewomen last season, but found herself on the other side of the win/loss column on Saturday despite dropping 24 points.

UMass will finish off their four-game home-stand against Holy Cross on Sunday, Dec. 14 in the Mullins Center, before heading to Atlanta to participate in the Holiday & Hoops Classic hosted by Georgia State University.

Arthur Hayden can be reached at [email protected]