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 looks to end eight-year drought against Dayton Wednesday

(Kymber Hill. Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)
(Kymber Hill. Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)

Plenty has happened in the last eight years. We’ve seen Barack Obama become the first black President of the United States. We’ve seen numerous iconic celebrities, such as Michael Jackson and Steve Jobs, pass away. We’ve even seen gay marriage be legalized across the country.

All of these events were important in their own right and all of these events have happened since the last time the Massachusetts women’s basketball team beat Dayton back in 2008, when they topped the Flyers 56-46 on Senior Day at the Mullins Center.

UMass (7-17, 1-11 Atlantic-10) has their next opportunity to take down Dayton (13-10, 6-6 A-10) on Wednesday, when the Flyers travel to Amherst for an A-10 contest.

The Minutewomen are coming off a win for the first time since their Jan. 2 contest with Virginia Commonwealth. UMass coach Sharon Dawley believes the 69-60 upset victory over St. Bonaventure last Saturday will give them a bit of momentum, but isn’t putting too much stock into that game for Wednesday’s contest.

“We just have to have a strong start and continue where we left off,” Dawley said. “It might give us some momentum, but it’s a new day and a new opponent so we’ll have to be ready for different sets and everything for Wednesday.

Sophomore center Maggie Mulligan agreed with Dawley’s assessment.

“We have to make sure we come out and attack early,” Mulligan said. “We need to make sure we transfer all the energy we have before the game and keep it throughout the game because usually we start off pretty slow and have to dig ourselves out of a hole.”

A big focus of the game will be the post play for the Minutewomen on both ends of the court. UMass has seen solid performances from Kymber Hill , Rashida Timbilla, Alyssa Lawrence and the aforementioned Mulligan, and the Mintuewomen will need strong performances from all of their bigs if they want to compete with Dayton’s post players.

The Flyers have 10 players that stand over six-feet tall, the tallest being Saicha Grant-Allen (6-foot-5) and Jodie Cornelle-Sigmundova (6-foot-4). Allen stands a whole three inches taller than UMass’ tallest players, Mulligan and Hill.

Mulligan and Dawley both stressed the need to have strong post play Wednesday.

“Our defense in the post is going to be key if we want to come out on top,” Mulligan said. “We know they have a lot of high-low plays, so as long as we defend the low-post and high-post, we should be good.

“A lot of the defending of their post players will be by committee,” Dawley added. “Maggie and Kymber have been doing a great job down low, so we are very confident that they will show up for us on Wednesday.

The Flyers come into the game with one of the fourth ranked scoring offenses in the conference averaging 68 points per game.

Dayton is without two of its top five scorers, Amber Deane (15.3 ppg) and Kelly Austria (10.4 ppg), who have both been out since December with injuries, but they still have three other players averaging double digits.

Dawley stressed team defense to slow down the Flyers offensive attack.

“We’ve worked a lot on defense over the last couple days and switching and defending their sets,” Dawley said. “It all comes down to team defense. Every team in the conference has strong offensive threats and this game is just the same in that regard.

The Minutewomen will also need another big performance out of sophomore guard Cierra Dillard coming off her sixth 20-point game this season, and the continued hot play of Hill who has scored 44 points over her last three games if they want to pull out the victory Wednesday.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Mullins Center.

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

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