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

Toth: UMass needs more steady hands

Minutewomen score eight second quarter points
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team needs a constant performing player, especially in scoring. Although it won 56-44, and games shouldn’t be focused around one star player, it pays to have a steady teammate to fall back on.

With three returning players from the previous year (Kristin Williams, Stefanie Kulesza and Lilly Ferguson), the Minutewomen (1-0) do not have the years of experience playing together that many teams have. These three players provide support to the team, but not enough to rely on every game. 

After a strong first quarter from Kulesza and Williams, the second quarter wasn’t the same story. Williams went 0-for-4 in field goals and 0-for-2 in 3-pointers and Kulesza put up similar numbers shooting 1-for-2 from the field. These statlines rose after a drop in the second quarter, which showed their experience. Still, after Williams and Kulesza couldn’t hit their shots, no one stepped up on offense. Only eight total points came from UMass’ offense in the second quarter and four players were involved. Williams and Kulesza, along with Dallas Pierce and Lilly Taulelei each contributing two points for the Minutewomen. 

This second quarter offensive slump was due largely in part to the lack of scoring on Williams and Kulesza’s end. Their shots weren’t falling, giving a chance for another player to step up, but no one did. If this second quarter downtrend happens another time in a full game, then UMass needs someone else to step up. The Minutewomen deeply need a consistent player, someone who they can trust to contribute every game, even when everyone’s shots aren’t falling. In every other quarter, Williams and Kulesza were the leading scorers and could be trusted, finishing the game with 19 and 15 points, respectively. Yet, when the second quarter hit, the Minutewomen’s offense fell apart. Without the dependable offense of Williams and Kulesza, UMass has to find the next person to step up. Although every player will not always have a good game, they have to be steady enough to at least score a few for their team. 

Still, this is not to say that UMass does not have vocal leaders on the team. Williams highlighted that each player steps up vocally, following suit of the last person that provided encouraging words. The Minutewomen use their five inactive players on the bench to their advantage. These players are just another set of eyes on the team, picking up notes that the coaches may have missed. 

“Alexsia [Rose]’s always talking to us … she’s on the bench and she sees everything,” Williams said. “I think that’s what we need to build off of.”

After playing St. Peter’s, whose record was 0-30 last year, the Minutewomen got away with not having a consistent scorer each quarter. But, as the season goes on and UMass faces tougher competition, it will need that stability going forward. 

Having a player like Sam Breen last year, someone that UMass always knew it could count on, is invaluable to a team. Yet, even when she wasn’t having her best day she still managed to contribute, with the help of her teammates. The 2023-24 Minutewomen haven’t shown who that player will be with only one game into the season, but they must find her soon before harder competition comes to play. 

Rachel Toth can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RachelToth46.

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