Minutewomen Trounce Sacred Heart, 74-48
Nov. 22, 2002
AMHERST, Mass. - Sophomore guard Katie Nelson (Ellicott City, Md.) poured in a team-high 15 points as the University of Massachusetts women's basketball team (1-0) downed Sacred Heart (0-1), 74-48, in both squads' season opener tonight at the William Mullins Center.
The 26-point victory was the largest in a UMass season opener since it beat Harvard 86-49 on Nov. 29, 1978. The win was the first for Head Coach Marnie Dacko, who made her regular season debut on the Minutewoman bench this evening. Seven of the nine head coaches in the program's history have now won their first game.
Nelson's 15 points tied Sacred Hearts' Nicolle Rubino for the game-high. Nelson also dished out a career-high seven assists, while shooting 4-of-5 (.800) from behind the arc. Senior center Jennifer Butler (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added 13 points and 13 rebounds for her 42nd career double-double. Senior Nekole Smith (Ann Arbor, Mich) added 14 points, while senior Ebony Pegues (Columbus, Ohio) scored 13. Butler also led the team with four steals. Senior Siiri Liivandi (Rapla, Estonia) added six points and pulled down eight boards.
The Minutewomen came out on fire in the first half led by Butler and Nelson's nine points apiece. Massachusetts entered the halftime break leading by 16 points, 40-24. The crisp shooting did not stop in the second half as the Minutewomen jumped out on a 17-3 run over the first 5:41 and never looked back en route to the non-conference win.
For the game, Massachusetts shot .463 (31-67) from the field, while holding the Pioneers to a mere .333 (16-48) percent. The Minutewomen went over the 70-point plateau just three times last season, winning on each of those occasions.
The 74 points were the most that the Minutewomen have scored in a season opener since they downed St. John's, 83-66 on Nov. 14, 1998.
In addition to Rubino's 15 points, Brooke Kelly scored 14 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds for Sacred Heart.
Massachusetts now embarks on a season-long three-game road swing. The first stop will be Jersey City, N.J., on Monday, Nov. 25, for a 7:30 p.m. game with Saint Peter's.