Trio of seniors shine in UMass women’s basketball’s Senior Day win

By Frank Corona

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Kim Pierre-Louis, Emily Mital and Paula Tarnachowicz have been anxious about Sunday’s game against Rhode Island all year. For the three seniors on the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, their last game at the Mullins Center marked a sad realization.

But Sunday’s Senior Day ended on a high note for the trio, as UMass fended off a last-minute surge from the Rams en route to a 78-70 victory.

“It’s a day we’ve been dreading, it’s a senior day that we didn’t really want to have,” Minutewomen coach Sharon Dawley said. “We don’t want to lose these guys but we’re excited about where they’re at and we’re excited about whatever they choose to do.

“They’re going to be great at it so we couldn’t be prouder of our seniors.”

Pierre-Louis led UMass with 22 points and 13 rebounds, recording her seventh double-double of the season. The 6-foot forward became the fifth Minutewoman in program history to record 500 points in a season.

Sunday’s milestone marked Pierre-Louis’ second in three weeks. On Feb. 19, the senior reached 1,000 career points, becoming the 20th player to do so in program history.

Mital chipped in 11 points Sunday, accounting for the second of four double-figure performances by UMass. The guard finished 3-for-7 from beyond the arc.

“It just felt right and I never pictured us losing this game,” Mital said. “Going into it, we knew we were going to win it. It felt like it went how it should have gone and we got the (win).”

The final senior on the roster, Tarnachowicz, finished with two rebounds in five minutes on the floor.

With a young team composed of five freshmen, the Minutewomen’s three seniors have played integral roles in helping the team’s underclassmen adjust to the collegiate level. Freshman Cierra Dillard, who scored 20 points Sunday, is one of the freshmen who’s been impacted by the trio.

“I look up to (Pierre-Louis) to just how she plays, look up to (Mital) to see how she shoots, they’re great learning leaders,” Dillard said.

“I’m just happy that we got the win for them today, that’s what they wanted. That’s what I want for my senior year, for my freshmen to go out and help go out a good way. We got a big win tonight.”

Sunday’s season finale ended UMass’ two-game losing streak and continued its encouraging six-game stretch to close the season, finishing 3-3. This came after the Minutewomen dropped six straight from Jan. 18 to Feb. 7.

UMass (11-17, 5-11 Atlantic 10) stands as the No. 13 seed in the upcoming A-10 tournament. The Minutewomen will face No. 12 seed St. Bonaventure in a play-in game Wednesday.

The opening round game will be played in Richmond, Virginia, at 4:30 p.m.

Frank Corona can be reached at [email protected]

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