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.
Out of their league: Admittedly, today’s outcome wasn’t really much of a surprise. On the road against a the No. 17 team in the nation, the Minutewomen had the deck stacked against them coming in. But today was especially disappointing for UMass. Committing 31 turnovers is unacceptable against any opponent. The Minutewomen were visibly browbeaten at times today, and it showed in their efforts getting after loose balls, boxing out, etc. UMass coach Sharon Dawley probably wants to tear her hair out after this final. This might just be one of those games when the coaching staff burns the game film and moves on.
Harris makes the most of it: On a day when no single player really distinguished themselves, freshman Jasmine Harris put together a nice little afternoon, scoring eight points (including a 3-point make) and grabbing five rebounds in only 15 minutes. She had another excellent look from three, as well, but it rimmed out.
Watson frustrated: Five fouls, six points, 17 minutes. That line says it all.
Up next: UMass heads back home now to host La Salle on Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. at the Mullins Center.
Losing streak snapped: Yes, the Minutewomen’s long national nightmare has finally come to an end: UMass women’s basketball snapped it’s 8-game losing streak with today’s ??-?? home win over George Washington. It got rather tense towards the end of regulation as the Minutewomen threatened to give away yet another late lead at home, but, for the first time in seemingly forever, UMass hung on late. Sharon Dawley and her players have preached that the start of the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule represented an opportunity to wipe away the team’s poor start to the season. That certainly seemed to be the case this afternoon, at least for one game.
Rodney perfect off the bench: Dawley has also spoke at length this season about the contributions of Aisha Rodney off the bench. Rodney, who struggled to get back to full strength following a preseason ankle injury, showed exactly what her coach was talking about today, scoring 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and grabbing five rebounds, including a couple of big offensive boards to keep eventual scoring possessions alive. That kind of efficient production off the bench is invaluable for any team and especially so for a team struggling to put together wins.
Cloutier continues production: The big minutes continue for Carolann Cloutier, who made her first start of the year today, and she responded once more with another solid offensive performance: 13 points, two rebounds and four assists. Two of Cloutier’s field goals were big time 3-point makes that helped spur the Minutewomen into the run that gave them the lead they almost blew late in the game. She also knocked down a clutch free throw late to help ice the win.
Up next: A winning streak, perhaps? The Minutewomen next travel to the Bronx to take on Fordham in another Atlantic 10 matchup. That game will be played Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Halftime lead: It’s been a long time since the Minutewomen last held a lead going into the break, over a month, in fact. On Dec. 8 UMass took a 30-21 advantage into halftime on the road against Ole Miss. The Minutewomen were outscored 50-29 in the second half, but oh well. It’s been a tough, gritty affair here today (which hasn’t made for the most entertaining basketball), but UMass coach Sharon Dawley will take any lead she can get at this point.
Late run: George Washinton’s Tara Booker made a shot clock-beating jumper with with 8:34 left in the first half to tie the game up at 14-14. The Minutewomen, doing something they’ve struggled mightily to do so far this season, then went on a 13-3 run. For a stretch of about five minutes UMass played almost mistake free basketball, showing what it can do when those pesky mental errors and sloppy decisions are erased.
Mital leading the chrage: Emily Mital helped kick start the Minutewomen offensively in the first half, knocking down a pair of wide open 3-point attempts. At one point Colonials coach Jonathan Tsipis viciously stamped his foot down on the hardwood seeing Mital with another beautiful look for three. She’s also played some tremendous defense today (as she’s done all year).