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

Upset in Amherst: UMass women’s basketball tops heavily favored St. Bonaventure Saturday at Mullins Center


(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

Down 42-32 with five minutes, eight seconds remaining the third quarter of Saturday afternoon’s game against St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center, it looked like the Massachusetts women’s basketball was well on its way to its 12th straight loss and its conference struggles were destined to continue.

The media timeout that followed must have given UMass (7-17, 1-11 Atlantic 10) new life as it went on 7-0 run and eventually got the deficit down to one point going into the fourth quarter. The Minutewomen would carry that momentum over to the fourth and upset the heavily favored Bonnies (20-5, 9-3 A-10) 69-60.

The win for UMass snaps an 11-game losing streak that started back on Jan. 2 when it lost to Virginia Commonwealth 74-66. The victory Saturday is their first in conference play.

Senior forward Rashida Timbilla believes this win will be big for the Minutewomen to get back on track.

“Obviously it’s huge for us and our morale as a team,” Timbilla said. “We just have to continue to build off this game. St. Bonaventure is a top team in the conference and to knock them off is especially big after the stretch we’ve been on.

UMass coach Sharon Dawley was happy to see the performance her players put on Saturday.

“I’m just happy to see everyone have a good game,” Dawley said. “It feels good that all of their hard work paid off. Now they get to enjoy it, instead of coming close but not having the feeling of a win.”

The Minutewomen were aided by a very balanced scoring attack led by sophomore Cierra Dillard who finished with 20 points, and the sixth time this season Dillard had 20 or more points.

“My mindset was to just keep attacking,” Dillard said. “My teammates had big games around me and it took a lot of pressure off of me. I was comfortable to keep attacking knowing that my teammates would pick me up if I missed a shot.”

UMass also got a strong performance from freshman guard Bria Stallworth who had 15 and junior forward Kymber Hill, who chipped in 14. This was the fourth straight game Hill had 10 or more points, something she had only done twice earlier this season. Timbilla also chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds. The 10-rebound performance gives her 954 for her career, ranking second in program history.

St. Bonaventure saw strong games from their big offensive threats as well with senior forward Katie Healy leading the way with 16 points and six rebounds. Healy sits sixth in the conference in scoring with 15 points per game.

Senior guard Nyla Rueter chipped in 15 and sophomore forward Miranda Drummond had 12 as well for the Bonnies.

A big focal point of the game was the Minutewomen’s ability to close out the game in the fourth quarter where they outscored St. Bonaventure 22-12. They also locked down on defense compiling four of their nine steals in that quarter.

Dawley felt like her team showed a lot of resilience in the game’s final frame.

“This team is all about resilience,” Dawley said. “With the losing streak going on, a lot of teams would have folded, but we seem to get better. We’ve lost some tough games. Some teams would break with those breaks and our team is getting stronger. I told the girls in the locker room, ‘My hat’s are off to you.’”

Next up on the schedule, UMass will take on Dayton (13-9, 6-5 A-10) Wednesday.

Timbilla believes defense will be key for the Minutewomen in that game.

“They have two good post players, so post defense will be big,” Timbilla said. “We’ll need to limit them to one shot. With good teams, it is very important to limit them to one shot and by doing that it will help us run our own offense more efficiently.”

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

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