This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.
What: Women’s Basketball (15-3, 5-0 A-10) vs. Massachusetts (6-11, 0-5 A-10)
Where: The Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. EST
The Colonials are coming off a huge road victory against then-No. 25 Duquesne and are now on a ten-game winning streak coming into Wednesday’s game against Massachusetts.
UMass does not have the same momentum. They have been defeated in five consecutive Atlantic 10 matchups including a 25-point loss to St. Bonaventure and a 20-point loss to Saint Louis.
Last year when these two teams met, the Colonials were able to come out on top 69-54 on the road. This effort included 14 points from then-sophomore guard Hannah Schaible, 13 points from then-junior forward Jonquel Jones, and 10 points from then-freshman forward Kelli Prange.
Here’s what to expect from the game:
The Case for the Colonials: Jones is coming off her second consecutive A-10 Player of the Week Award and is on top of her game. She leads the NCAA in rebounds per game (15.4) and forces opponents to fight for their defensive boards.
Jones and junior forward Caira Washington are also imposing presences in the paint. The two have combined for six blocks per game in conference play.
Look for the Colonials to keep the tempo up right off the tip. The Minutewomen have not scored a fast break point in two games and may not be able to keep up with GW’s pace.
Of the two teams, the Colonials have been playing a much higher level of basketball, having wins over strong teams including Dayton, Villanova, and Saint Joseph’s.
Schaible has come out strong since her return from injury. She has now started the past nine games and been a consistent leader on the defensive side of the floor. Schaible’s 9.5 points per game are just an added bonus when you consider her intangibles.
The Case for UMass: This is the Minutewomen’s chance to end a streak, take out a team atop the conference, and turn around their season.
A tight loss with a 9-8 (3-2 A-10) Saint Joseph’s team shows that UMass has the ability to play with good teams, even though things have not gone their way as the clock ticks down.
UMass comes out with some talent spread around the starting lineup. Sophomore guard Cierra Dillard is the scoring leader for the Minutewomen, averaging 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. On Sunday, Dillard dropped a career-high 27 points in a losing effort against Richmond.
Freshman guard Bria Stallworth plays the point and leads the Minutewomen with 3.6 assists per game. She also has the ability to get to the basket, highlighted by a 20-point performance against Duke.
It appears that a combination of junior forward Kymber Hill and sophomore forward Maggie Mulligan will have the duty of guarding Jones throughout the game. If these two have any success, it will be an enormous step in the direction of winning.
The Bottom Line: This game should move the Colonials to 6-0 and the Minutewomen to 0-6 in the A-10. In all facets of the game the Colonials seem to have the advantage and momentum is clearly on their side. If UMass is able to pull off the surprising upset it will have to be some function of great guard play, efficient shooting, and an unlikely shut down of Jones.