Jan. 20, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. -
The UMass women's basketball team will face a tough test this Wednesday, Jan. 21, as the squad will face its first ranked opponent of the season, No. 21 Xavier, at home in the Mullins Center at 7 p.m. An audio broadcast of the contest will be carried on WMUA 91.1 FM, while a video webcast and live stats will be available via UMass All-Access at UMassAthletics.com. In the series that began during the 1995-96 season, Xavier leads the series with UMass by a 15-2 margin and has won the last 13 straight meetings with the Minutewomen. The last victory for UMass against the Musketeers came at home in the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Mar. 1, 1998, by a 49-44 margin. Marnie Dacko is 0-7 in her career vs. Xavier with all meetings coming during her time with the Minutewomen.
The 2008-09 Minutewomen are a young group with only two seniors and one junior on the 13-player roster.
UMass returns eight letterwinners, losing five. Senior Stefanie Gerardot and junior Kim Benton are the lone returning starters from the 2007-08 squad.
Among the squad's losses from 2007-08 are two 1,000-point scorers, All-Atlantic 10 performers Kate Mills and Pam Rosanio. Mills finished her career fourth all-time in scoring with 1,525 points, while Rosanio ranks seventh with 1,466.
The Minutewomen were selected 12th in Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll.
About The Xavier Musketeers
Xavier, the two-time defending Atlantic 10 Tournament Champions, posted a 24-9 record last season and made an NCAA appearance. The Musketeers finished the regular season third in the A-10 with a mark of 11-3 in 2007-08 and were picked to finish first in the conference in this year's preseason poll.
Xavier, currently ranked 21st in the USA Today/ESPN national poll, holds a record of 15-4, 3-0 in the Atlantic 10 and has won its last six straight. Two of the Musketeers four losses have come at the hands of ranked foes: then-No. 4/6 North Carolina (L, 73-67) and then-No. 9/10 Louisville (L, 65-55). Xavier's last setback was exactly one month ago on the road at Arizona State, a 75-57 loss.
Ta'Shia Phillips leads the Musketeers in scoring with an average of 13.6 points per-game, while Tudy Reed and Jerri Taylor are averaging in double figures as well with 10.9 and 10.3 ppg, respectively. Phillips is the squad's leading rebounder as well with 11.9 per-game.
The Last Meeting: UMass at Xavier (1/26/08)
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Kate Mills
and Pam Rosanio
scored 14 points each and the UMass defense held Xavier to 28.6% shooting, but it wasn't enough, as the Minutewomen fell to the Musketeers, 51-39, on Jan. 26, 2008, at the Cintas Center. Mills also grabbed nine rebounds and Whitney McDonald
added eight boards. Jerri Taylor led the Musketeers with 16 points. UMass played Xavier, who had entered the night tied for second-place in the Atlantic 10, tough throughout, as the lead changed hands eight times.
UMass held the defending A-10 champ's much-heralded inside duo of 6-5 Amber Harris and 6-6 Ta'Shia Phillips to 12 combined points, but UMass' shooters had trouble finding the mark as well, as the clubs posted matching shooting stats of 14-for-49 (28.6%). The Musketeers held the advantage in rebounds, 41-35.
UMass took an 8-6 lead on a Mills jumper with 13:44 left in the opening half. The Minutewomen defense started strong, holding the Musketeers to 2-for-11 shooting up to that point. After six-straight Xavier points, UMass went on a 9-2 run over 6:23 to take a 17-14 lead with 4:11 left in the first. Maureen Hester scored the final five points of the half to give Xavier the lead, 19-17, at halftime.
Mills led the way in the first half with five points and eight rebounds, while the Minutewomen shot 28.0% (7-25). Xavier was led by Hester's eight points, while the Musketeers were held to 16.7% (5-30) shooting. UMass held a 23-21 advantage on the glass in the opening 20 minutes.
Mills started the second half with two quick baskets to give UMass a 21-19 lead, but Xavier responded, outscoring the Minutewomen, 21-7, over the next 9:39, with the help of four 3-pointers, to take a 41-28 lead with 9:05 remaining. Mills and Rosanio combined to outscore the Musketeers, 10-6, over a 6:04 span to pull UMass within eight, 46-38, with 2:30 left. Xaviers defense clamped down however, and held the Minutewomen to one point for the remainder of the game.
December A Breakout Month For Danella
Freshman forward Kristina Danella had a breakout month of December, averaging 7.2 points per-game and 5.2 rebounds per-game over UMass' six contests last month as she posted season best performances in points (25) and rebounds (11), averaging 18.2 minutes played per-game. Over the month of November (six games), Danella had averaged just 2.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14.5 minutes played per-game.
Since then, Danella entered the starting lineup on Dec. 29 vs. Seton Hall and has started the past seven games, playing a career-high 39 minutes at Fordham on Jan. 10.
She is averaging 12.8 points per-per game and 4.7 rebounds per-game in the month of January and has led the team in scoring in the three of the past four contests with 16 points against NJIT, 24 vs. Fordham and 18 vs. Charlotte.
Her performances vs. NJIT and Fordham earned her Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Rookie of the Week (1/11) for the second time this season.
Danella was first selected as the Rookie of the Week on Dec. 22. This marked the first A-10 weekly award for a member of the Minutewomen this season, while Danella was the first rookie from UMass to be recognized since current junior Kim Benton was honored on Dec. 18, 2006 and was also named the UMass/Dinn Bros. Athlete of the Week, as well.
Danella helped the Minutewomen to a 80-51 victory over Northeastern on Dec. 20 in the squad's only game of that week, leading all scorers with 25 points for a career high. She shot 7-for-11 (63.6%) from beyond the arc, contributed seven rebounds and one block in the win.
Her seven treys matched a program single game record originally set by Beth Kuzmeski against Dartmouth on Jan. 25, 1995 and accounted for half of the team's total as the Minutewomen also broke a school record for three-pointers in a game with 14.
Danella is the team's leading free throw shooter, having made 36-of-45, (80%) and is currently tied for 10th in the Atlantic 10 in free throw percentage.
She is also in the top-10 in the league in three-point field goal percentage (41.1%) as she has made 23-of-56 on the year.
Through three A-10 games, Danella is fourth in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg) and ranks second in three-point field goals per game (2.67).
Sophomore Cerie Mosgrove is second in the Atlantic-10 in three-point field goals made (38) with an average of 2.22 per-game and entered this week ranked 93rd in three-point field goal percentage (35.5%).
Mosgrove surpassed the team lead from the 2007-08 season just nine games into this year's campaign on Dec. 7 at Brown. Current senior Stefanie Gerardot had a team-high 26 made three-pointers last year.
Mosgrove has 51 career three-pointers, which ranks 15th all-time in program history and is three away from passing Paige Harris for 14th. She is five away from breaking into the single season list. Katie Nelson '06 holds the record with 58 three-pointers in a season (2004-05). Nelson averaged 2.0 made threes per-game that year.
Record Breaking Year Beyond The Arc
Kristina Danella's three pointer vs. St. Bonaventure on Jan. 17 was the team's 118th of the season, shattering the school record for treys 18 games into the 2008-09 campaign.
The previous team record for a season was 117, set during the 2002-03 campaign (28 games), an average of 4.18 per-game. The Minutewomen entered the week 41st nationally and are currently second in the Atlantic 10 with an average of 6.56 three-pointers per-game.
Junior Kim Benton is now fifth all time in career three-pointers (93) after tying 2008 graduate Pam Rosanio's career total with a trey last Saturday at St. Bonaventure. Senior Stefanie Gerardot is seventh with 89 career threes. She has a career-best 34 thus far this season.
The program single game record for three-point field goals made was nine entering 2008-09, set back on Jan. 18, 2003 vs. St. Bonaventure. The Minutewomen broke that record with 10 against New Hampshire on Nov. 19, before surpassing the mark with 11 at Colorado on Nov. 28. UMass equaled the record of 11 at Brown on Dec. 7 and also had 10 against Minnesota on Nov. 29.
On Dec. 20 against Northeastern, the Minutewomen broke the single game three-point record once again with 14 against the Huskies, marking the fifth time this season the squad has put up 10 or more threes in a game. It also equaled the second-highest single game total by a squad in Atlantic 10 history.
"The Show" Leads The Offense
Through 17 games, senior Stefanie Gerardot leads the team and is second in the A-10 scoring with 15.8 points per-game, entering this week at 95th nationally. She is also sixth in the Atlantic 10 in three-point field goals per-game (1.89).
Gerardot has reached double figures in scoring in 16 out of 18 games this season, surpassing the 20-point mark four times. Her 16 games in double figures this year is more than the career total she held entering 2008-09 (14), while she had only scored 20 once prior to her senior campaign.
Gerardot has now scored in double figures for eight straight games, the longest streak of her career (previous high was five earlier this season).
Her 285 points are already a career best for a single season as her previous high was 205 in 30 games in 2007-08.
Gerardot played in her 100th career game on Jan. 10 at Fordham.
Wright Way To Rebound
Sophomore Teya Wright is the leading rebounder for the Minutewomen and is seventh in the A-10 in rebounds per-game (8.2), second in offensive rebounds per-game (3.56).
Wright has helped make up for the loss of 2008 graduate Kate Mills who led the squad in rebounds last season with 219 in 30 games for an average of 7.3 per-game. Wright has been the squad's leading rebounder in 10 of 17 games thus far, including a career high 16 vs. Delaware. She now has logged five or more rebounds in a game 31 times in 48 career contests.
In addition, she is 10th in the A-10 in steals per-game (1.78). She surpassed her steals total from 2007-08 15 games into this season vs. NJIT. She had 27 in 30 games as a freshman and currently has a team-high 32 steals in 18 games.
Wright played a career-high 35 minutes at Boston College (Jan. 4) and had a career-best three blocks at Fordham (Jan. 10).
She is five boards away from her 300th career rebound.
Healthy Hill Contributes For The Minutewomen
After missing all of last season due to injury, redshirt sophomore Diatiema Hill has played in all 18 games thus far for the Minutewomen, starting 17 of them, and averages 28.7 minutes per-game, second to only senior Stefanie Gerardot's 30.5 minute per-game average.
Hill ranks fourth in the Atlantic-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.50), 83rd nationally. She has already more than doubled her freshman year total for assists (22 in 27 games) with 54 on the year.
Hill flirted with a triple-double on Dec. 20 against Northeastern as she posted career highs in points (11) and assists (8), while matching her career best in rebounds (8).
She then bested her career high in points against Boston University on Jan. 2 with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
Hill had a career-high five steals against NJIT, all of which came in the second half.
She has scored six or more points in five of the last eight games. Her career high entering this season was five points.
Young Climbing Career Assist Chart
With 62 assists on the year, senior Sakera Young has 259 career assists to her credit. She is now 12th all-time after surpassing Sue Henry's '78 career total (242) during the Minutewomen's game against Seton Hall on Dec. 29. She needs two more to overtake Beth Wilbor '89 for 11th.
Young's single game total of 11 against Brown on Dec. 7 was not only her career high, but was the most by a Minutewomen since Katie Nelson '06 had 10 against Saint Joseph's on Feb. 5, 2006.
Young is ranked fifth in the A-10 in assists per-game (3.44) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.09).
Jones Giving UMass Valuable Minutes
Freshman Nicole Jones has been seeing significant time off the bench as of late, setting career highs in minutes played in three straight games, first with 17 vs. NJIT, 20 at Fordham and a new best, 25, vs. Charlotte.
Jones had six rebounds vs. both NJIT and Fordham and four against Charlotte. She totaled six points and four steals versus the 49ers on Jan. 14, her highest point total since recording eight in 12 minutes in the squad's season opener at Vermont on Nov. 14.
Nice To Meet You
UMass had four new opponents on the docket for the 2008-09 non-conference schedule: Manhattan, Colorado, Long Island and NJIT. The Minutewomen went 4-0 against those teams, winning by the scores of 71-68, 70-62, 53-51 and 63-50, respectively.
Career Highs Plentiful For Returnees in 2008-09
Seniors Stefanie Gerardot and Sakera Young and sophomore Teya Wright all had career high point totals on Nov. 14 in UMass' season opener at Vermont.
Gerardot's 29 points were not only a career high for her, but marked the most points scored by a Minutewoman since March 6, 2003, when Jennifer Butler had 29 against La Salle. Gerardot also had a career-best eight rebounds. Her previous high was seven, which she had posted on two occasions, last against at La Salle on Feb. 6, 2008.
Young equaled her career high with nine points, previously set two times, last at Duquesne on Feb. 20, 2008. The very next game, vs. Manhattan, Young surpassed that mark with 10 points, scoring in double figures for the first time and hitting the game-winning free throw with :02 seconds remaining in the contest. Young once again matched her career high with 10 against Minnesota on Nov. 29 and set a new mark with 15 vs. Seton Hall on Dec. 29. She posted a career-best 11 assists at Brown on Dec. 7.
By halftime of the Vermont game, Teya Wright had already passed her career high of 11 points, which she set twice during her freshman campaign in 2007-08, at Northeastern (11/17/07) and at Providence (12/31/07). Wright totaled 12 points at the intermission and finished the night with a double-double on 15 points and 11 rebounds. At the Coors Classic, Wright set a new career high for points with 24 vs. Colorado had 13 rebounds, marking her first 20-point game of her career. Wright had a career-best 16 rebounds vs. Delaware on Dec. 10, the highest total posted by a member of the Minutewomen since Kate Mills totaled 19 against Dayton on March 7, 2008.
Two sophomores, Cerie Mosgrove and Stephanie Lawrence, had career high point totals against New Hampshire on Nov. 19. Mosgrove drained four three-pointers, contributing to her total of 14 for the night. Lawrence matched her career best total of 10, which she had previously posted on Jan. 12, 2008, against Rhode Island. The very next game (vs. Maine on Nov. 23), Mosgrove logged a new career high again, scoring a game-best 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting from beyond the arc. On Dec. 3 against Providence, Lawrence set new career highs in points (12), minutes played (26) and matched her career best in rebounds (5).
Minutewomen Recognized For Tournament Performances
Sophomore Cerie Mosgrove and senior Stefanie Gerardot have been honored for their success at tournaments this season as Mosgrove was named to the Coors Classic All-Tournament Team and joined Gerardot on the Brown Bear Classic All-Tournament squad.
Both were recognized as UMass/Dinn Bros. Athletes of the Week for their performances as well. Mosgrove earned the honor on Dec. 1 after averaging 13.0 points per-game at the Coors Classic, including 17 points against Minnesota. Gerardot was honored on Monday, Dec. 8, as Co-Athlete of the Week after averaging 18.0 points per-game in a 2-1 week, including 22 points against Brown at the Brown Bear Classic.
Minutewomen Ink Pair During November Early Signing Period
UMass head coach Marnie Dacko announced the signing of recruits Danielle Montgomery and Shakia Robinson on Nov. 24. The duo inked National Letters of Intent to play for the Minutewomen during the November early signing period.
Montgomery is a 5-8 guard out of Bluff City, Tenn., where she has helped Tennessee High School to Three Big 9 Conference Championships in her first three seasons and has been named the Tricitiessports.com Preseason Big 9 Player of the Year this fall as a senior.
A three-year captain, Montgomery was selected as the Northeast Tennessee Player of the Year by the Bristol Herald-Courier as a junior, while being tabbed All-Northeast Tennessee as a sophomore and as a junior by both the Bristol Herald-Courier and the Johnson City Press. As a junior, Montgomery scored her 1,000th career point and averaged 16.4 points per-game, 2.5 steals per-game and 3.6 rebounds per-game on her way to first team All-Big 9 Conference and District 1-AAA All-Tournament Team honors. Montgomery was the District-1 AAA Tournament MVP as a sophomore and earned a spot on the Region-1 AAA All-Tournament Team as a freshman.
The daughter of Cathy and Daniel Montgomery, Danielle played AAU ball with the Nautilus Express out of Virginia, coached by former Memphis player Justin Wimmer.
"Danielle is a left-handed floor leader with a steady handle who has explosive potential on the offensive end," said Dacko. "She has excellent court awareness and is a good passer in transition. Danielle comes to us from Tennessee, a state that traditionally produces top-rated girls basketball players; while this is my first recruit from Tennessee, I certainly hope it is not my last."
Robinson is a 6-1 forward who hails from North Wales, Pa., and attends North Penn High School where she is coached by Maggie deMarteleire. As a junior, she averaged 17.2 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game and was honored as the Suburban One League National Division MVP, was a first team all-league selection, while also being named a third team honoree by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Super "10" by The Intelligencer.
In her freshman and sophomore campaigns at Abington Friends School, she was a two-time first team all-league selection and scored a total of 749 points over her two seasons.
The daughter of David and Charlette Robinson, Shakia played AAU ball with the Philadelphia Belles and was coached by Kevin Lynch.
"Shakia is strong inside with good hands and is mobile in transition," said Dacko. "She is an aggressive rebounder with a blue collar work ethic. She has the same love of the game that current junior Kim Benton and recent graduate Pam Rosanio brought to UMass. Philadelphia is a talent rich city and we have had good fortune recruiting there."
Minutewomen Add Zullo, Transfer From N.C. State, During Offseason
Megan Zullo has transferred to UMass from North Carolina State to play basketball for the Minutewomen and, per NCAA rules, will be eligible to play starting in 2009-10.
A 5-8 point guard from Greenville, N.C., Zullo started in 21 games for the Wolfpack last season, averaging 5.4 points and 2.2 assists in 22.6 minutes per game. She made 43 3-pointers and shot at a .352 clip from behind the arc.
Zullo is the niece of former UMass player Christel Zullo, a guard who starred for the Minutewomen from 1985-1989 and scored 784 points in her career. Sadly, Christel lost her life to cancer in February 2007. Last season UMass coaches, along with alumnae, created the Christel Zullo Spirit Award to be given each year to the Minutewoman that best exemplifies the energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the team that Christel was known for.