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Women’s basketball overpowered by Hartford in America East matchup

Freshman guard Markayla Sherman put up a career-high 15 points in a 33-minute performance on Saturday afternoon. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)

Marlon Pitter
Connector Editor

A second-half double-double from junior forward Kayla Gibbs was not enough for the UMass Lowell women’s basketball team to overcome the Hartford Hawks’ balanced scoring attack and takeaway abilities, as the River Hawks fell 80-59 Saturday afternoon at Chase Arena in West Hartford, Conn.

The River Hawks allowed 43 points off 36 turnovers, including 22 turnovers in the first half, to bury themselves in a deficit they could not recover from early in the game.

“The story of the game was turnovers,” said UMass Lowell head coach Jenerrie Harris. “You’re not going to be able to give up 43 points to the other team off turnovers and think you can compete.”

Hartford’s stingy press defense forced the River Hawks to make errant decisions with the basketball. They also capitalized on an 11-0 run in the first quarter to put the game out of reach, as they led 24-10 after one quarter.

Hartford, meanwhile, spread the ball effectively throughout the game, recording 18 assists and six double-digit scorers. Senior guard Deanna Mayza led the game with 16 points for the Hawks.

The Hawks dominated nearly every aspect of the game on their home court, chipping in 42 points in the paint and 23 fast break points.

Freshman guard Markayla Sherman led the River Hawks with 15 points, including 10 in the first half to fill the void left by Gibbs, as they trailed the Hawks 40-24 heading into halftime.

Gibbs, UMass Lowell’s leading scorer and rebounder, recorded 14 points in the second half and grabbed 12 rebounds to set the tone and try to stage a comeback for the visitors. She supplied a much-needed offensive spark after sitting on the bench much of the first half in foul trouble.

“Kayla sitting on the bench was tough,” said Harris. “She’s our leading scorer, and she an offensive threat, and to get two fouls early in the first quarter, that’s automatic offense right there for us there sitting on the bench.”

Sophomore forwards Oda Shackelford and Katherine Smith added six and four points of their own in the second half, respectively, to supplement the team’s inside presence.

Freshman guard Megan Hendrick added seven points in the second half, five of them coming from the free throw line where she was 5-for-8.

The River Hawks took an early lead from an Asia Mitchell-Owens three-pointer to start the game. Less than a minute later, forward Tyshay Britten added a layup on an assist from Gibbs to give UMass Lowell a 5-2 lead with 8:58 to play in the first quarter, but that would be the River Hawks’ only lead of the game.

The loss extends UMass Lowell’s losing streak to four and drops their overall record to 3-14 and 0-4 in America East play. The surging Hartford Hawks, meanwhile, move to 12-4 overall and 3- 0 in America East and are now winners of their last five.

The River Hawks travel to New York to take on the Stony Brook Seawolves Monday afternoon for a 2 p.m. America East matinee.

Marlon Pitter is a former editor-in-chief of the UMass Lowell Connector. Hailing from Hartford, Conn., he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in journalism and professional writing and a digital media minor in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @marlonpresents.

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