UMass women’s basketball falls short in overtime battle with CCSU Saturday

By Jamie Cushman

Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian
Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team battled back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter before falling to Central Connecticut State University in overtime 78-68 Saturday in New Britain, Connecticut.

UMass (3-5) looked primed to win its third straight game for the first time this season when sophomore guard Cierra Dillard hit a 3-pointer to give the Minutewomen a four-point lead with one minute, 25 seconds remaining in regulation.

“I would say that was the biggest shot of the year, except for the winning four-point play from the other night,” UMass coach Sharon Dawley said.

But a pair of baskets from Blue Devils forward TeJahne Malone sent the game to overtime, where CCSU (2-7) ran away, outscoring the Minutewomen 18-8 in the extra period.

Dawley contributed the loss to unforced errors leading to turnovers and the team’s inability to secure loose balls. The Minutewomen had 23 turnovers Saturday.

The game began with back-and-forth scoring in the opening half. UMass took a one-point lead with about four minutes remaining the in the first quarter courtesy of one of Dillard’s five 3-pointers on the day.

The Minutewomen did not trail again until a layup from Blue Devil guard Camden Musgrave put the Blue Devils up 26-25 with 1:01 remaining in the half.

CCSU carried that momentum after halftime going on a 14-5 run to open the third quarter. An even final seven minutes in the third set the Blue Devils up with a 47-37 lead to open the final quarter.

UMass forward Alyssa Lawrence then brought life back to the Minutewomen, sparking a 21-5 run. Lawrence tallied 10 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the first double-double of her UMass career.

After starting in the first four games for the Minutewomen, Dawley removed Lawrence from the starting lineup to the bench, where she’s done so for the past three games.

“Whether she starts or comes off the bench, I think right now she’s playing to her potential,” Dawley said.

Dawley also reiterated that it is possible Lawrence could find herself back amongst the starting five if the current rotation does not contribute enough offensively.

CCSU featured a very balanced offensive attack. All five members of the Blue Devils’ starting unit scored in double figures, with junior guard Aleah Epps leading the way with 24.

Senior forward Nicole Ferguson chipped in 8 points off the bench and was the lone CCSU bench player to score.

Dawley was impressed with the Blue Devils’ ability to get contributions from a multitude of players and thinks the Minutewomen should seek to replicate this.

“That’s where we need to be. If we want to win these games, we can’t have two kids in double figures and no one else. We need other kids to step up and make some shots.”

The Minutewomen will play one more road game on Monday at No. 13 Duke before returning to Amherst for a five-game home stretch.

Monday’s game from Cameron Indoor Stadium is set to tip off at 7 p.m.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]