UMass women’s basketball falls short against Fordham Saturday afternoon

By Adam Aucoin

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(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts forward Rashida Timbilla stepped to the free throw line with 16 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game trailing by one with a chance to tie the game and send UMass to overtime.

Total silence filled the Mullins Center as she let go of the ball, but it wasn’t meant to be as the ball rimmed out and the Minutemen (6-16, 0-10 Atlantic 10) went on to lose 60-55 to Fordham.

With the loss, UMass extends its losing streak to 10 games and remain winless in A-10 play.

Saturday’s contest was close throughout as there were 13 lead changes during the game.

Despite the loss, Minutewomen coach Sharon Dawley was happy with UMass’ play against the Rams (11-12, 6-4 A-10).

“There were a lot of positives from today’s game and we played pretty well,” Dawley said. “We out rebounded them, which was a good sign. We had them on the ropes, which was a good sign. If we had outside and inside performing at a high level, we would have beaten them.”

Over the last four games, the Minutewomen have come closer and closer to that elusive first conference win, losing by less than 10 points in all four games.

UMass guard Cierra Dillard believes these close losses are giving the Minutewomen motivation.

“Seeing that we can stay with great teams is big,” Dillard said. “We just need to find the keys to keep it close and be up at the end so it gives us motivation to do that.”

Fordham went with a six-player rotation Saturday and found success with four of those players scoring in double digits.

Senior forward Samantha Clark led the Rams with a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, while also chipping in five assists on the day.

Fordham also saw nice days from Lauren Holden and Danielle Burns who both chipped in 12 points, while G’mrice Davis had 10.

The Minutewomen on the other hand were led by a more unlikely source: junior Kymber Hill.

The Belleville, Illinois native finished with 15 points, while also grabbing five rebounds on the day.

Dawley was impressed with how Hill’s performance against the Rams.

“This was Kymber’s best game of the year,” Dawley said. “Ending up with 15 and five, but her defense on Clark, who is one the best post players in the conference, was phenomenal.”

“We’re in a hole right now, so to get out of the hole they needed more offensive presence. More offensive presence and the defense will follow.” Hill added, talking about her mindset in Saturday’s game.

A big discrepancy in the game was UMass’ failure to get to the free throw line. The Minutewomen only got to the line five times and hit three of those shots, while Fordham shot 13-of-15 from the free throw line.

Dawley believed that had a big impact on the outcome of the game.

“It changes everything,” Dawley said. “Give us 15 free throw attempts and we’re sitting here talking about a different story, but all we can do is ask the girls to get to the basket and have faith we will get the calls.”

Now marred in a 10-game losing streak, UMass is in desperate need of a win to change their luck.

Dillard and Hill are confident that the team can turn their season around.

“It’s all about just keeping our heads up to keep the motivation on our side,” Dillard said. “Of course going through this tough struggle in basketball isn’t easy, but knowing we have our teammates around us to support us will help us pull it out in the end.”

“We just have to put the pieces together,” Hill added. “I think we’re coming together from the start of the season. We’re starting to connect and when the A-10 tournament comes around we’ll be good.”

The Minutewomen will next try to get back into the win column on Wednesday when they travel to take on La Salle. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. 

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34