Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball’s comeback falls short against URI

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(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

It was close, but not close enough.

Despite a 27-point fourth quarter for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, it suffered another disappointing conference loss Wednesday afternoon, marking its seventh straight defeat.

Rhode Island fought off the late Minutewomen (6-13, 0-7 Atlantic 10) comeback just long enough to secure the 80-79 win in front of a hundreds of screaming children on their annual Field Trip Day at Mullins Center.

After a tight start in which UMass finished the first half down 37-33, the Minutewomen started to fall apart in the third and saw its deficit extended to 15 when Symone Bullard converted a layup with three minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the quarter.

UMass responded with an 8-0 run late in the final quarter to retake a one-point advantage with 6:06 remaining on the clock, but URI retook the lead and survived in the final minutes of regulation.

Despite allowing 80 points, Minutewomen coach Sharon Dawley said she was happy with the team’s offensive production, whose 79 points were the highest since they scored 84 in a win against UMass Lowell Dec. 30.

“I thought it was a great effort, I thought we played really well, I thought that if a couple of our shots had fallen we’d be in a different situation,” Dawley said.

UMass shot 30-of-59 from the field and made 7-of-22 from 3-point range.

The Minutemen’s numbers were very comparable to URI (10-9, 4-3 A-10), who finished 29-of-55 from the floor and 8-of-23 from beyond the arc. Both teams also finished with an identical 29 rebounds, 12 offensive and 17 on defensive.

While the stats may be similar, the biggest difference in the game was the key shots that URI made down the stretch.

“Of those seven (3-point shots), we were 7-of-22, I think if one or two of those had fallen we’d be having a different conversation right now,” Dawley said.

The Rams led for more than 36 minutes in the game due in large part to their ability to match the Minutewomen’s runs.

Sophomore guard Cierra Dillard (19 points) agreed.

“They had some key moments in the game that kind of swung their way and gave them a little boost,” Dillard said.

URI came into Wednesday’s matchup with a hot 3-point attack. Last Saturday the Rams set a school record with 13 3-point makes in a 78-62 victory over Davidson.

While the Minutewomen allowed eight, UMass kept pace with four coming from Dillard. She claimed that her success was a result of being the open woman thanks to good ball movement from her teammates.

““I just feel that my teammates did a great job of seeing me and getting the open spot, we had a lot of threats where the defense has to pay attention too, so any time they see me and get a great pass for me I felt like I had the easiest job to just shoot the 3,” Dillard said.

The Minutewomen’s defense forced 14 turnovers including nine steals.

“I think what hurt us the most (Wednesday) was our help. The helper (defense) wasn’t in there, which led to 18 points, that hurt.” Dawley said.

The Minutewomen next travel to George Mason this Saturday to take on the Patriots in search of their first conference win of the season.

“All we need is one game and I feel like we can go off that. So just keep going and keep attacking and just keep our heads up,” Dillard said.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo

About the Writer
Philip Sanzo, Sports Editor
A six-run fourth inning gives UMass victory over Northeastern at Fenway Park.
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