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 looks to end four-game losing streak against Bryant Wednesday

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Flickr)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Flickr)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s trip to Boulder, Colorado for the Omni Hotels Classic this past weekend did not go as planned for the Minutewomen.

With a 90-63 blowout loss to Colorado last Friday and a similar result against Ball State (81-54) the following night, UMass (1-4) is in need of something to turn the season around.

Currently riding a four-game losing streak, the Minutewomen have their next opportunity to get back into the win column this Wednesday against Bryant (2-3) in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

UMass coach Sharon Dawley expects her team to come out strong in its return to action and doesn’t believe there will be any carryover from the weekend.

“We bounce back. That’s what we do,” Dawley said. “We ran up against two really strong teams in Colorado. I think once we mature we will be able to compete with those types of teams at a very high level. We are just very young right now, so there is bound to be growing pains.”

The Bulldogs (2-3) are coming off a nail-biting 65-64 loss to Holy Cross Sunday. Bryant was down by as much as 13 points in the first quarter before storming back to take the lead late before dropping the game.

The matchup with the Bulldogs is the first time the two programs will meet. Dawley said the unfamiliarity won’t affect the game.

“It doesn’t really affect our preparation at all,” Dawley said. “They run some interesting stuff and we have run to through that, so it’s unfamiliar in that sense, but in general the traits are the same. If we play our game, I’m very comfortable we’ll be ready Wednesday.”

UMass has struggled stopping opposing offenses this season, as it has given up an average of 70.8 points per game.

Dawley doesn’t believe the issues are completely because of defensive lapses and instead applauded the ability of the Minutewomen’s opponents as to why the team has struggled defensively.

“Anytime you play the game of basketball you always walk away thinking there was lapses,” Dawley said. “Especially in (Colorado) I think it was more the opponent being as good as they were than us having defensive lapses.”

Bryant won’t make life easier in this regard as it has three players who average more than 13 points per game this season.

Sophomore guard Ivory Bailey, who is coming off an 18-point game against the Crusaders, heads the Bulldogs’ offensive attack with a team-leading 16.8 points per game. Seniors Breanna Rucker and Tiersa Winder are also large contributors averaging 13.8 and 13.2 points, respectively.

Not all is negative for UMass however. There have been a few bright spots that have shined through despite the team’s slow start to the season.

Freshman guard Bria Stallworth continues to be the team’s most consistent scoring option, leading with 15 points per game. She has scored in double-digits every game this season while no one else on the team averages more than 10 points.

Another bright spot comes from a more unexpected place in Maggie Mulligan. While most of the Minutewomen were having a rough weekend, Mulligan was not following that trend in the tournament.

The sophomore’s impact was especially felt on the boards where she pulled down 13 rebounds in the first game against the Buffaloes and followed it up with another eight in the second game against the Cardinals. For her efforts, Mulligan was named to the All-Tournament team.

Dawley has been nothing but impressed with the growth of the young center this year.

“(Maggie) is a huge impact player for us,” Dawley said. “Sometimes I have to sit and think of her just a year ago, not being ready to contribute at the D-I level. After putting in a lot of work, her confidence is growing and I think she is going to become a really good basketball player.

“(Wednesday) is very critical for us to gain some confidence and get a win,” Dawley added about facing Bryant. “All of the non-conference games were planned to prepare us to compete in the A-10, so it’s definitely important we start to gain some confidence now.”

Wednesday’s tipoff is set for 5 p.m. at Chase Athletic Center.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34.

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