UMass women suffer another loss at home
AMHERST — Facing an opponent with an even lengthier losing streak than its own, there was a feeling that, sooner or later, something would have to give for the University of Massachusetts women’s basketball team.
Unfortunately for the Minutewomen, the breaks of the game once again found themselves on the losing end, falling to Dartmouth 57-55 at the Mullins Center on Sunday.
The loss stretched the UMass losing streak to eight games, just one shy of matching the mark set last season for the team’s longest skid during coach Sharon Dawley’s tenure in Amherst. The Big Green (2-12) snapped a 12-game losing streak with the victory.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” Dawley said. “We’ve yet to have a game where we’ve had five kids click at the same time. That’s where we’re at in terms of being frustrated.”
The Minutewomen (2-13) have time and again found themselves fighting to put together second-half comebacks this season, only to then fail to execute in late-and-close situations.
“We talked in the locker room (about how) we can’t miss 13 free throws and be minus-13 rebounding,” Dawley said. “Not a lot of games are going to be won that way.”
UMass struggled to find its rhythm offensively. The team shot just 32.2 percent from the floor for the game and converted just 6-of-28 field goal attempts in the first half.
Only the Big Green’s own shooting struggles kept the Minutewomen’s hopes afloat as they fought through woeful trips to the free throw line and missed layups.
Dartmouth led 26-21 after the first half, a deficit that was quickly extended to 10 points just out of the break.
But Kiara Bomben, who finished the game 10-of-12 from the line on her way to a career-high 16 points, and a surprising offensive effort from Carolann Cloutier kept UMass within striking distance.
“It just felt great,” said Cloutier, who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered late last season. “It’s just hard when you come back from an injury and you’re trying to get there, but it’s just not working. I just felt really confident with my shot, and today it was just dropping.”
The production from Bomben and Cloutier down the stretch was especially welcomed by UMass, as two of the team’s top three scorers, Jasmine Watson and Rashida Timbilla, spent much of the second half on the bench in foul trouble.
The Minutewomen cut the Dartmouth lead to just 51-49 with 1:59 remaining, but turnovers and clutch free throw shooting by the Big Green (17-for-18) iced the game in the waning moments of regulation.
“Sometimes it creeps in that you’re playing not to lose instead of playing to win a basketball game, and that could be part of (the losing streak),” Dawley said. “They’re all must-win (games). There’s no game that we can take lightly.”