Timbilla in control: Rashida Timbilla played the strongest first half of her teammates in the penultimate game of her freshman campaign. Along with eight points, Timbilla has grabbed eight boards, four on other side of the ball. She is 3-of-8 from the field and added a pair from the line. Furthermore, her three assists also comprise half of the teams dimes and while on defense she has three steals. Her presence in the key on the boards has been a catalyst for the Minutewomen because of Jasmine Watson’s foul trouble.
Foul trouble for the Minutwomen: Jasmine Watson only registered eight minutes in the first twenty, having to come off with two fouls early on. Fortunately, Watson’s absence has not made it hard for the team with Timbilla stepping up and Emily Mital being able to find her shooting touch. Aisha Rodney has also offered up six points and three boards in the Watson’s place. Timbilla is also in trouble with two personal fouls of her own, however her level of play has forced UMass coach Sharon Dawley to keep her on the floor. Watson’s fellow senior teammate Dee Montgomery also has a pair of fouls
Jessica Pachko big for XU: Xavier closed out the half with 24 points, half of which came through their center Jessica Pachko. Her early frustrations resulted in a warning from the refs, but after a brief cooling off period on the bench Pachko has kept the Musketeers competitive in the game. With much of the teams offense running through her, the XU big has showcased her ability to cut sharply in the key to get to the hoop for easy lay ups, while also requiring a defender down low to free up space in the zone.
Losing streak reaches double-digits: Already the longest of the Sharon Dawley era, UMass’ losing streak now sits at 10 games after the loss to Charlotte. The Minutewomen will have three more opportunities (vs. Duquesne, at Saint Joseph’s, vs. Xavier) to snap the skid before it extends into next season.
Second-half surge: Whatever message Dawley sent to the team in the locker room at halftime obviously hit home, because UMass played like a completely different team in the second half. After being outscored by 24 points in the opening 20 minutes by a clearly superior 49ers team, the Minutewomen responded after the break, going blow-for-blow with Charlotte’s 38 points with 43 of their own. Rashida Timbilla and Jasmine Watson, especially, elevated their play in the second half, scoring a combined 19 points after netting just six together before halftime.
Pierre-Louis shows heart: Another player who showed some impressive grit with her effort was Kim Pierre-Louis. Kim, who has most often been brought into games in late situations where the outcome has already been decided, played her heart out tonight. She’s never been one to back down from an opponent, but tonight especially, you could tell the other Minutewomen were drawing from her effort.
Up next: With only three games left on the 2012-13 schedule, the Minutewomen will get a few days off before hosting Duquesne at the Mullins Center on Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.
Bad omen: Things got off to an inauspicious start for UMass when, off the opening tip, freshman guard Nola Henry took possession of the loose ball and proceeded to sprint up the court… the wrong way. The Minutewomen were hit with the over-and-back penalty, and Charlotte raced off to a 11-0 run to open the game. It was ugly, confusing and perfect microcosm of UMass’ up-and-down, mistake-ridden season.
Overmatched: I predicted a 30-point loss for the Minutewomen right before the opening tip. So far, it’s looking like I might’ve undersold this talented 49ers squad. Ny Hammonds (12 points), Jai Forney (9 points) and Jennifer Hailey (7 points) lead Charlotte into the break with a 24-point lead.
Shooting woes continue: UMass has been plagued by poor shooting throughout its first 25 games, so it should come as no surprise the trend continued into tonight. The Minutewomen, who are shooting just 24 percent from the field, including a 1-of-6 performance from beyond the arc, haven’t looked good at all. Combine that with 17 turnovers (compared to just eight from the 49ers) and you have the makings of a blowout.