Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball continues Atlantic 10 woes with loss against Saint Louis

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

The last time the Massachusetts women’s basketball beat Saint Louis, freshman guard Bria Stallworth was in the middle of her eighth grade year and head coach Sharon Dawley was just getting her feet wet in Amherst, leading the them to a 7-23 season.

That was 2011.

Fast-forward to 2016 as UMass (6-10, 0-4 Atlantic 10) fell to the Billikens 69-49 Wednesday night at Chaifetz Arena. The loss for the Minutewomen is their fourth in a row, all of which have come in Atlantic 10 conference play. Prior to A-10 play, UMass had been riding a three-game winning streak coming off wins against Hartford, Boston University and UMass-Lowell.

The big story of the day was the rebound advantage SLU (13-4, 3-1 A-10) held throughout the night. The advantage was apparent especially on the offensive boards for the Billikens who out-rebounded the Minutewomen 19-9 in their end of the floor. This led to an 18-7 advantage in second-chance points for SLU.

Dawley recognized the impact the rebound advantage had on the game.

“Their (19) offensive rebounds led to a lot of their (38) points in the paint, so that was a killer for us tonight,” Dawley said. “We can’t be successful if we are giving up those easy points in the paint. It’s pretty simple.”

Wednesday’s contest marked the fourth time this season the team failed to score at least 50 points, failing to do so in-back-to-back games.

Only two UMass players ending up finishing in double digits, Bria Stallworth (17) and Cierra Dillard (10). With the exception of Stallworth, the other Minutewomen starters finished with a combined 16 points.

“I think when kid’s are missing easy shots it can get contagious,” Dawley said. “Once everyone starts over-thinking, they don’t focus on the rim and what we are looking at and it effects the way we run our offense. I think a lot of that is contagious.”

The Billikens had similar struggles from the field only shooting 36 percent, but they outshot UMass with 14 more field goal attempts and made 12 more free throws made than UMass.

SLU had three players score in double digits. Guard Jackie Kemph and forward Maddison Gits led the way with 12 points, while guard Jamesia Price chipped in 11. 

Righting the ship

UMass has faced the gauntlet in A-10 play up to this point. The Minutewomen have taken on three of the top five teams in the conference in overall record this season, Saint Bonaventure (15-2), Virginia Commonwealth (13-4), and now the Billikens.

Dawley is hoping that taking on the conference’s best will be beneficial for her team going forward.

“When you start with teams that we started with, it’s hard for the girls to be confident,” Dawley said. “If we had some of the more beatable teams that might have helped, but we can’t control the schedule. I definitely think that despite the losses we’ve suffered during this stretch, we’ve gained some valuable experience against some tough teams.”

Moving forward, the team is taking a game-by-game approach.

“All we can do is move forward and try to grab the next game,” Dawley said. “These losses are in the past, so we have to do our best to put them behind us and pick up the next game.”

The next chance for UMass to get into the win column in conference play is Saturday when it returns to the Mullins Center to take on Richmond (8-9, 1-3 A-10). The Spiders have experienced similar trouble to the Minutewomen as they have dropped their past three games.

Dawley is hoping to see better post play and boxing out from the team on Saturday and believes it will be a key if they want to break the losing streak they are on.

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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

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