Ball State routs UMass women’s basketball Saturday

By Tom Mulherin

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

The Massachusetts women’s basketball fell to Ball State 81-54 in the second game of a back-to-back series in Colorado’s Omni Hotels Classic Saturday, resulting in a weekend sweep.

The loss marks the Minutewomen’s (1-4) fourth-straight defeat, and leaves them winless since a victory in their season opener on Nov. 15 against Holy Cross.

After keeping up with the Cardinals (3-2) throughout the entire first half, UMass saw a five-point deficit increase to 21 once the third quarter came to an end. The stretch was highlighted by one-sided play in the opening half of the quarter, as Ball State went on a 14-6 run to break the game open with a 13-point lead.

The Minutewomen couldn’t muster up the scoring to overcome the run from that point on, as they failed to cut the lead under 10 for the rest of the game. Simply put, UMass coach Sharon Dawley says that the run just came down to the other team converting shots when her team couldn’t, and that got to UMass.

“I think a lot of missed shots [plagued the team],” she said. “They had a pretty good run where they were making a lot of shots and we were just coming up short. I think that run deflated us … their key players made key plays.”

The Minutewomen struggled to shoot efficiently in the losing effort, which has been a troubling trend over their recent losing streak. UMass shot just 30.3 percent from the field to gather a lowly 54 points on 17-of-56 shooting, which compares similarly to the sub-40 percent shooting the group experienced in its previous two games.

Behind every shooting percentage is shot selection, and the Minutewomen started to veer away from aggressive play with more outside shots as the game progressed. This could have been what hindered the team in the overall scope of the loss, as a 3-for-13 effort from beyond the arc didn’t exactly help UMass in this one.

With that said, Dawley’s group started to take less and less chances around the basket as the game advanced, and therefore led to a smaller amount of trips to the free throw line. After shooting a decent 13-of-18 from the charity stripe in the first half, UMass only took five attempts in the second. Dawley believes that this shot selection played a part in the matchup, and is something the team needs to work on in future games.

“I think we stopped attacking the way we had been and I think we started to settle for outside shots,” she said. “The night before, going to the line 36 times, we didn’t settle and that kept us in the game. [More] free throws would have been really key in keeping it close.”

Overall, Dawley was proud of the effort the Minutewomen put in, even though it resulted in a loss. She doesn’t think that these past couple games reflect the ability of her team, but instead emphasizes the toll a lack of time between games can have in back-to-back performances. Rather than her team failing to execute well in the game, Dawley credits great play from the Cardinals and a small preparation window as the driving forces behind the loss.

“I think what they had maybe over us was a very consistent 3-point shooter with incredible range,” she said. “They had a post player that was great in attacking the rim. But I wouldn’t say necessarily they had a lot of players better than ours, but better performances than ours.”

“It was a tough turn around for our team to know a scout with an hour shoot around following our game against Colorado,” she continued. “It was tough for them to know all their sets, as well as it’s pretty hard to teach those sets in 60 minutes. That’s difficult to do.”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]