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 closes out regular season with win over La Salle

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

After a difficult season that included 11-game losing streak, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team finished its regular season in style, beating La Salle 80-57 to extend its winning streak to five games.

UMass (11-17, 5-11 Atlantic 10) scored the most points it has in the month of February and featured five players in double digits for points.

“I think if we have that balanced attack, we’re a tough team to play,” Minutewomen coach Sharon Dawley said. “Early on our games were very lopsided, we had two players scoring and a lot of players not scoring. Kids have done a great job stepping up.”

Redshirt sophomore Alyssa Lawrence played a bigger role with junior forward Kymber Hill unable to play in the second half due to injury. Lawrence finished with a game-high 19 points, in addition to five rebounds.

Dawley felt Lawrence’s ability to make up for the loss of Hill was critical to the win.

“Just a huge spark off the bench, and without having Kymber, we needed her to step up to get this win and she certainly did,” Dawley said.

Forward Rashida Timbilla, one of two players honored before the game for Senior Day along with Victoria Stewart, made the most out of her final game at the Mullins Center.

Timbilla scored 15 points and picked up 10 rebounds, putting her at 997 for her UMass career. Dawley thought it was a great way to end Timbilla’s time at the Mullins Center.

“(It’s a) perfect way to go out. If we’re writing a book, we want to get a triple-double, but I’ll take the double-double,” Dawley said.

Timbilla was happy the Minutewomen earned the win and kept up their momentum heading into the conference tournament.

“You want to go out with a bang your last game ever at Mullins Center, so I’m happy for myself and happy for my teammates that we were able to get the win,” Timbilla said.

La Salle (5-24, 2-14 A-10) was hampered by foul trouble starting as early as the second quarter. Sophomore guard Amy Griffin, the A-10 leading scorer played only 24 minutes, after she was forced to sit out much of the third quarter with four fouls before ultimately fouling out with three minutes, 48 seconds remaining.

In limited playing time Griffin tallied 15 points, only slightly below her season average of 18 points per game. Dawley was still impressed with Griffin’s scoring ability despite her lack of playing time against the Minutewomen.

“The kid can just score,” Dawley said. “At one point she got around two of use and still scored. There’s kids that can just put the ball in the hole, and she’s one of them. She’s a tough kid to defend.”

Junior guard Jasmine Alston was the Explorers’ only starter who avoided foul trouble, playing all 40 minutes. Alston finished with 12 points and a team-high eight assists.

As the regular season comes to a close, UMass heads into the A-10 tournament on a five-game winning streak and playing its best basketball of the season. Dawley was especially impressed with the team’s previous win, coming back from a 19-point deficit to defeat Rhode Island Wednesday night.

“You go through enough of those experiences and I think it builds your confidence a little bit,” Dawley said. “I just think we’re playing great basketball and I hope we can keep it going for a long time.”

Timbilla agreed with her coach that the past five games have been an important learning experience for the Minutewomen.

“It hasn’t been five perfect games, but we’ve taken a lot from it and learned, so it will be huge for us next week,” Timbilla said.

The Minutewomen will next be in action in Richmond, Virginia for the opening round of the A-10 tournament on Wednesday.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected].

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