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

Bria Stallworth continues to makes strides in freshman campaign

(Bria Stallworth. Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)
(Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)

After recording 20-plus points in each of the Massachusetts women’s basketball team’s previous two games, the Atlantic 10 Conference announced Monday that first-year standout Bria Stallworth had earned Rookie of the Week honors for her exceptional performances.

This is the fourth time Stallworth has received the award in her first season with the Minutewomen (6-14, 0-8 A-10), which largely comes as a result of her 20-point, 11-assist performance against Rhode Island on Jan. 27. It was the first double-double of her career and it nearly helped UMass snap its then six-game losing streak.

Despite headlining the Minutewomen during their lowest point of the season thus far, Stallworth deferred a lot of the credit to the rest of her team.

“I think the coaches and the players have just been able to get me in positions where I’ve been able to be successful,” she said. “It’s all up to them. If my team and my coaches didn’t put me in positions to score like that, then I would never have got those awards.”

Nonetheless, the 5-foot-6 point guard still feels pleased to have reached such heights for the program this early in her career.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “Coming in as a freshman, I wanted to do well but I never would have imagined having the success I’ve had so far. Four of them is just big for me, hopefully I can get more.”

While Stallworth wouldn’t take much of the credit for the individual accomplishments she’s achieved in her first season, coach Sharon Dawley wasn’t one to shy away from recognizing her point guard’s hard work to get where she is. She did note that Stallworth hasn’t been absolutely stellar in all of her games, but that’s just part of the learning process for a freshman.

“Freshman year is tough,” Dawley said. “She started off great and then we hit conference [games], and obviously the competition gets really tough. I think she maybe lost her confidence a little bit…but she’s such a strong-willed kid and talented basketball player that she came out on the other side now averaging 20 points per game in the last two games.”

“She has all the makings to be a great point guard,” she continued. “I think it was tough for her to be thrown in the fire. Perhaps that led to the ups and downs, but she’s too talented to leave on the bench. I’m just proud of her for sticking with it and getting better.”

With nine contests left in the season, Stallworth’s 3.8 assists per game leads UMass and ranks ninth in the A-10. While she ranks second on the team in scoring with 12.6 ppg, Stallworth has also led the Minutewomen’s scoring attack nine times with three 20-plus point totals. With the team facing off against one of the conference’s better teams in Duquesne on Wednesday, those offensive numbers will surely be put to the test.

“I think she’ll do a good job,” Dawley said. “She’s just playing her game now, I don’t think it matters who we play. Bria just has to suit up and know how good she is and stick to the game plan and when she’s open, knock it down.”

As far as Stallworth is concerned, her four A-10 Rookie of the Week honors won’t stop her from achieving more.

“I think it’s an accomplishment, but I’m never satisfied with myself,” she said. “I think that’s why I was able to get four; I always want something better for myself. My coaches always want more for me and I think that’s what keeps pushing me to get more and more [awards].”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected].

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