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 prepares for Rhode Island Wednesday at Mullins Center

(Makoto Yabusaki/ Daily Collegian)
(Makoto Yabusaki/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team will play in front of a packed house Wednesday afternoon as hundreds of local school children will be attending the matchup against Rhode Island for the team’s annual Field Trip Day.

Although the screams of hundreds of children can distract just about anyone, UMass (6-12, 0-6 Atlantic 10) will need to remain focused if they hope to earn their first conference win of the season.

After winning their final four non-conference games, the Minutewomen have struggled to keep up that high level of play in A-10 action, losing their first six games.

URI (9-9, 3-3 A-10) enter Wednesday’s game on a winning back-to-back, including a 78-62 win over Davidson in their most recent game in which the Rams made a school record 13 three-pointers.

UMass is aware they will have to defend well against the long ball if they hope to escape Wednesday’s matchup with a win.

“Everyone has to be locked in defensively to make sure that we have them take tough shots,” Rashida Timbilla said.

Although a school record in 3-pointers the previous game is bound to receive some extra attention, UMass coach Sharon Dawley believes the Minutewomen need to be ready to defend against the 3-point shot no matter the opponent in the A-10.

“Anyone in this conference we have to be prepared to be able to shoot 13 three’s,” Dawley said.

One player the Minutewomen will need to keep their eye on is guard Charise Wilson. Wilson, last year’s A-10 Rookie of the Year winner, has nearly identical statistics this season compared to last season’s award winning performance.

Wilson is the Rams leading scorer with 16.1 points per game as the sophomore loves to shoot from beyond the arc. During her freshman year, Wilson made 62 3-pointers, good for the second most in a single season in school history.

In order to earn their first conference victory of the season, the Minutewomen will need to improve offensively. UMass has been held to 50 points or less in three of its last four games, which is a recipe for disaster for any team.  .

“Just keep pushing,” Cierra Dillard said. “I feel like we’ve had a lot of great opportunities, we’re just missing shots, missing bunnies, you know (what I am) saying, but we’ve just got to keep pushing and working on our shot in practice.”

Dawley believes that for the offense to get back on track, the Minutewomen need to get more people involved.

“I think we have to have everyone looking to score,” Dawley said. “Sometimes we all assume that Cierra is going to score, or Bria (Stallworth) is going to score, and there’s a lot of pressure on them to do that.”

One of those other players capable of putting the ball in the net is Timbilla. In the Minutewomen’s previous game against George Washington, Timbilla led the team in scoring with 13 points and earned her second double-double of the season.

Timbilla believes she needs to match the aggressiveness she had in the George Washington game in order to replicate that performance.

“Early on I was aggressive with my shots and looking for my own (offense) a little more, and obviously attacking the glass like I usually do,” Timbilla said.

The Minutewomen will hope that Timbilla can harness that aggressiveness again on Wednesday as the team looks for its first conference win of the season.

Wednesday’s game is set for a special tipoff time of noon.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected].

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