Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball rallies for comeback win over URI

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Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian

(Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian)

Trailing by 13 points and shooting a meager 19 percent from the field at halftime, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team found itself in an all too familiar position.

Twenty minutes and 53 points later, UMass was on its way to its fourth straight victory, defeating Rhode Island 71-64, thanks to a huge second half comeback in which the Minutewomen outscored the Rams by 20 points.

UMass (10-17, 4-11 Atlantic 10) was lights out from beyond the arc in the second half, shooting 9-for-11 from long range.

Sophomore guard Cierra Dillard led the three-point show, finishing 7-for-9 from three, tallying 24 points in total despite a scoreless first half.

Dillard’s first pair of three-pointers sparked a 12-0 run for the Minutewomen in the third quarter, cutting the deficit, which was as high as 19, to just seven at the end of the quarter.

Junior forward Kymber Hill also carried the Minutewomen offensively, scoring a career high 21 points. Hill was effective at getting to the free throw line where she was 9-for-13, including two successful three-point plays. She also tallied nine rebounds, falling just one board short of a double-double.

UMass coach Sharon Dawley credited better passing with causing the uptick in offense for the Minutewomen in the second half.

“We started sharing the ball a little bit better,” Dawley said. “We were getting great shots off four or five passes and not so great shots after one pass early on, so we talked about going inside out and sharing the basketball. We were getting wide open threes doing that.”

UMass also dominated the rebounding battle, outrebounding the Rams by 13, including 12 more offensive rebounds than their opponent.

The Minutewomen took full advantage of their effort on the glass, scoring a season-high 24 second-chance points. Dawley considered the UMass’ effort on the boards to be a major part of the win.

“To get 17 offensive rebounds to their five was critical,” she said. “That really made a difference for us. To come on the road, miss a shot, and get 17 offensive rebounds, that’s just great effort.”

Senior forward Rashida Timbilla was once again the Minutewomen’s leading rebounder, hauling in 14 boards. Timbilla now finds herself 13 rebounds shy of becoming just the second player in UMass history to tally 1,000 rebounds.

Rhode Island (11-16, 5-10 A-10) was led on offense by its two usual suspects, leading scorer sophomore guard Charise Wilson and senior forward Samantha Tabakman.

Both players scored 15 points on the night, though Tabakman was much more efficient, shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the field. Dawley was impressed with Tabakman’s shooting performance and the forward’s development this season.

“I think she’s one of the most improved players in the conference. She’s a solid, solid post,” Dawley said.

Holding Wilson to 15 points marked a major improvement from the previous matchup this season, when she scorched the Minutewomen for 28 points. Dawley credited a better job closing out and putting pressure on Wilson late in the shot clock with the improved defensive effort on the Rams’ top scorer.

UMass returns to the Mullins Center on Saturday for their final game before the A-10 conference tournament, facing off against La Salle.

Saturday’s game will be Senior Day, honoring Rashida Timbilla and Victoria Stewart before the game. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected].

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