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

Inside game highlights Minutewomen’s effort in defeat

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Throughout the majority of conference play, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team has struggled to find a rhythm inside the paint and on the glass on both sides of the floor.

That changed Saturday in a 60-55 loss to Fordham, as the Minutewomen (6-16, 0-10 Atlantic 10) kept pace with the usually formidable Rams (11-12, 6-4 A-10) frontcourt led by Samantha Clark, whose 9.2 rebounds per game ranks third in the conference. While Clark did manage to record 17 points and 10 rebounds in the game, center Kymber Hill dominated the inside as well with 15 points of her own and Rashida Timbilla’s eight boards paced UMass to outrebound Fordham 34-33 by the end of the contest.  

Coach Sharon Dawley noticed the team’s performance within the arc – as the team nearly tied the game with 16 seconds left after consecutive offensive rebounds led to an and-one layup – and offered praise for its effort. If it weren’t for a minor lapse of perimeter play, Dawley believes her group would have come out on top.

“The inside game was terrific today,” she said. “We out-rebounded by one, that’s a good sign. We had them on the ropes, that’s a good sign. I just thought our perimeter play wasn’t where it’s been and I think if we had outside and inside performing at a high level at the same time, we would’ve beat them.”

Throughout the entirety of the game, it seemed as if the Minutewomen were determined to win from the inside. Normally a group that puts up 10-plus shot attempts from beyond the arc, UMass only took six three-point attempts in the loss, with two of them coming in the last 10 seconds out of desperation to tie it up.

Despite the change of pace, however, Dawley shot down any notion of it being part of the game plan to nix the three-point game. Perhaps the team was better off without them in the end though, as UMass’ season-long 30.3 success rate from downtown was replaced by 41.7 percent shooting and 22 points in the paint.

“We weren’t open (from three),” Dawley said. “If you’re not open you can’t take them and we were getting better shots. We were getting mid-range jumpers, we were getting attacks at the fast break. We’re not a great three-point shooting team, so we’re not pushing the envelope on that until we start shooting a little bit better.”

Overall, a majority of the frontcourt played a positive role in the offense on the day. Maggie Mulligan posted six points with two offensive rebounds and Timbilla pulled down five offensive boards as well. Tagging those efforts with efficient shooting from the guards and Hill’s offensive output left Cierra Dillard, who is the team leader in shots converted and taken from beyond the arc, feeling that UMass took a nice approach in the scoring attack.

“Yes, without a doubt,” Dillard said when asked if the shot ratio was beneficial on offense. “Kymber Hill had a great game today, so did Maggie Mulligan. Rashida is always a force in the paint with the rebounds and everything, so it is a great balance to have. You can’t leave one of us open.”

One aspect of UMass’ play during its 10-game losing streak that seems to hinder more than others is a frequent allowance of offensive rebounds. That didn’t change against the Rams (11 offensive boards), but the team was able to hold them to just nine second-chance points in the outing. Facing a post player like Clark, Dawley was comfortable with that number.

“Playing Fordham, that’s pretty decent,” she said. “When you’re dealing with Clark, you worry about her getting nine (second-chance) points in a half. I think nine for the game is pretty good.”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected].

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