March 17, 2011

Ashmeade One of UMD's Best-New Bedford Standard-Times

March 17, 2011

Ashmeade Will Go Down as One of UMD's Best

by Ed Collins, New Bedford Standard-Times

DARTMOUTH, MA--- In an effort to get even more out of senior guard Tashauna Ashmeade, UMass Dartmouth women's basketball coach Amanda Van Voorhis has been preaching the benefits of dribbling the ball, getting closer to the basket, and taking better shots.

So what does Ashmeade end up doing? She scores her 1,000th career point on a 3-pointer in a game against Rhode Island College at the Tripp Athletic Center. "I just had to laugh and smile," Van Voorhis said. "It was fate and you can't argue with fate."

One of the toughest and most versatile competitors in the program's history, Ashmeade is one of only five UMD women's basketball players to score over 1,000 points.

"Tashauna has risen to meet every challenge we've given her," said Van Voorhis, who's in her third season with the team and started coaching Ashmeade when she was a sophomore. "She's played on some young, inexperienced teams here, but she's always worked hard and inspired her teammates."

The Corsairs (6-15, 2-8 Little East Conference), who play a 5:30 p.m. league game at UMass Boston today, have struggled during Ashmeade's career.

They finished 6-20 her freshman season, went 3-23 in her sophomore year, and were 10-16 a year ago.

"The team has been up and down, but the love of the game keeps me going," said Ashmeade, who has 1,053 career points at UMD. "I just love to play and I got a chance to start here as a freshman. That's all I ever really wanted, a chance to play somewhere and make an impact."

Born in Jamaica, Ashmeade moved to Hyannis when she was in the eighth grade and ended up playing at Barnstable High School, where she did not score 1,000 points. "I came close, but I didn't get there," Ashmeade said. "I came in with a big freshman class here at UMD. Playing time was hard to come by in the beginning, but I hung in there and I ended up working my way into the starting lineup."

A marketing major, who will also graduate with a minor in international business and is a member of the school's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Ashmeade coaches a summer-league team in Barnstable and is interested in becoming a basketball referee. 'When my playing days are over, I can't think of a better way to stay involved with the game," Ashmeade said. "The money is also pretty good and that would be a bonus." Ashmeade added that she might be interested in coaching an AAU team somewhere down the road, and Van Voorhis said Ashmeade would be a good fit as a coach.

"Tashauna has done a great job taking our younger players under her wing and working with them," Van Voorhis said. "She plays with a lot of patience and confidence, and she's helped me out a lot. When she's on the floor, she takes charge and her teammates listen to her."

Ashmeade, who scored a season-high 30 points in a recent 71-59 win at Salem State University, worked hard last summer to make herself a better player.

"Tashauna came back for her senior season in a lot better shape," Van Voorhis said. "She dropped some weight, which made her lighter on her feet, and she came back with more agility."

The added quickness has allowed Ashmeade to consistently score 10 to 12 points a game, rebound better, handle the ball more efficiently, and defend out on the wing. "She's become a very tough matchup for our opponents, because she can shoot on the perimeter, she can take the ball to the basket, and she can post up in the paint," Van Voorhis said. "She's been super steady this season and she's carried us in a lot of games."

Ashmeade has good basketball skills, but her biggest strength may be her mental toughness.

"Tashauna has a lot of confidence in herself. She's not afraid to step up and take that big shot," Van Voorhis said. "She knows what she can do on the court and she's also a very unselfish player who likes to get her teammates involved. She doesn't dwell on individual accomplishments. She just wants to do whatever she can to help the team."

Even though the Corsairs haven't won a lot of games during her career, Ashmeade is still happy with her decision to attend UMD.

"I don't regret coming here. Not at all. The school has been a great fit for me and it's close to home," Ashmeade said. "I've been able to step up as a leader on and off the court and every season has presented a different kind of challenge."

Ashmeade has been the kind of player every coach likes to have on his/her team, and Van Voorhis said that Ashmeade will continue to have an impact on the program after she graduates.

"We're going to miss her, but we're thankful for everything that she's done for this team," Van Voorhis said. "She's a pleasure to coach and she's one of the best players we've had in awhile. She's going to leave her mark here and that says a lot about the kind of player and person that she is."