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Mital ends Minutewomen career

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Emily Mital led the Minutewomen by example

Emily Mital led the Minutewomen by example

THOM KENDALL FOR UMASS ATHLETICS

THOM KENDALL FOR UMASS ATHLETICS

Emily Mital led the Minutewomen by example

Matt Gingras, Writer

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Photo Credit:  Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

For some players, a move to the bench after starting for two seasons would be a blow to their ego. When UMass women’s basketball head coach Sharon Dawley asked Emily Mital to do it prior to the 2014 season, “Tex” as she’s called by her teammates, needed to adjust.

“At first, it was a little bit of an adjustment because it’s not what I’m used to, but I told myself however many minutes you play, if you play four minutes or if you play 30, control what you can control. Play the way you know how and play to your strengths,” Mital said.

For Dawley, it wasn’t a matter of ability, but of size. “We just started a little bit bigger of a lineup,” she said. “What we’ve had that we never had before is a sixth man that can come in and do what she does for us.”

When she saw how the team was doing with her on the bench, it made it a lot easier. Last season, the Minutewomen finished their season 4-27. This season, the Minutewomen won their fourth game on Dec. 17 and finished the season with three times as many wins as the year before, ending the campaign at 12-18.

“We were winning more than we had been in the past, so that kind of made the role change easier,” Mital said.

Although her playing time changed, her job all season was the same as it had been in years prior: come in and knock down shots. And Mital did just that, hitting over 42-percent of her shots from beyond the arc.

But it isn’t just her shooting that makes her an effective player. Mital is vocal on the court, acting as an extra coach at times.

“We need leaders on the floor and she’s definitely one that we rely on,” said Dawley. “She goes in and rallies the group around her and she’s able to relay messages. She’s invaluable to us, it’s like having a coach on the floor.”

The leadership role is obvious to anyone who has watched a Minutewomen game with Mital in it. During every opponent free throw, after every whistle and every trip on defense, Mital’s voice can be heard giving instruction or motivation to her teammates.

Part Mital’s style is leading by example. She has a habit of igniting the team—not just with her words, but the way she plays.

Leah McDerment, Mital’s  former teammate, said “As soon as Tex gets the ball, we all stand up on the bench and we all are expecting a three from her.”  “She knows that’s what she can do and that’s what she can give us. She really can get us going and get us all hyped.”

During the team’s last home game of the season, the Minutewomen took on the University of Rhode Island (URI), a team that would earn the six seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. UMass had dropped the first contest of the season when they visited URI, but this time topped the Rams 78-70.

“It doesn’t really feel like my last home game,” Mital said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet, but it will hit me in a few weeks.”

In the game, Mital scored 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting, all from behind the 3-point line, also hitting both of her free throws. She was the fourth Minutewoman to enter double figures, and that’s something Dawley thought gave the team an edge.

“She normally gets three [3-pointers] a game for us,” Dawley said. “When she does, we do very well. She was the fourth person in double figures, which is why we won.”

For Mital and the rest of the Minutewomen, it was never a question if they were going to win that game. “We just went in with the mindset that we were going to win—we weren’t going to lose on senior day,” Mital said.

With the season and her career over, Mital plans on finishing her degree and then maybe going back into basketball in a different role.

Mital said,”I’m going to pursue a teaching certificate to go back home and teach high school and coach basketball in Texas.”

Her now-former coach thinks that’s a pretty good idea.

“She’ll be a great coach,” Dawley said. “She’ll be a great coach, great teacher, great role model.”

Matt Gingras can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @RealMattGingras

 

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Mital ends Minutewomen career