The University of Rhode Island’s women’s basketball team dropped the first two games of the season against the Marshall University Thundering Herd, 61-45, and the East Carolina Pirates, 66-38, at its tipoff tournament this past weekend at the Thomas M. Ryan Center.
The Rams picked up their first victory last night after defeating the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, 75-64. Freshman guard Charise Wilson led the way for Rhode Island with 24 points, 7 steals and 6 rebounds, including 12-for-14 from the free-throw line.
Rhode Island kicked off its 2014-2015 campaign by losing to the Thundering Herd 61-45 Friday morning despite trailing by only four points, 20-16, at the half. The two teams struggled to score as both squad’s field goal shooting came in at less than 30 percent.
Just four minutes into the second half, Marshall extended its lead to 10, which was the closest URI would be for the rest of the game. Free throws played a key role in deciding this game as Marshall converted on 11 more free throws than the Rams.
Thundering Herd senior forward Leah Scott led the way with a game-high 16 points and added six rebounds. Junior forward Samantha Tabakman led Rhode Island in points with 10 and in rebounds with seven.
In the second game, ECU’s aggressive defense proved to be too much for the Rams and they fell 66-38 Saturday afternoon. ECU opened the game on a 10-0 run, sparked by turnovers and a full-court press, and it took 3 1/2 minutes for freshman guard Dominique Ward to get Rhode Island on the board.
The Rams struggled from the field for a second day in row, making only five shots in the first half and committing 14 turnovers. ECU junior forward Jada Payne led the Pirates in the first half by scoring 15 points and contributing to her team’s comfortable 39-22 lead, sparked by a 9-1 run going into the intermission.
“The turnovers were a result of uncertainty and unfamiliarity with the press break,”Â Rhode Island head coach Daynia La-Force said. “We will become better at this as the season goes on, but adjusting to the speed and athleticism of ECU was difficult.”
The Pirates took over where they left off in the second half as they stretched their lead to 20 just five minutes in. Rhode Island was unable to overcome 25 ECU offensive rebounds and 34 points off as many turnovers, as well as 17 second-chance points.
Payne led the game in scoring with 19, while junior forward DeVaughn Gray added 14 points off the bench in 19 minutes. Wilson was the only player to reach double-digits with 10 points as the team’s shooting woes continued, ending the game shooting just above 20 percent.
“Our program is young, and early in the season, the focus will be on us and not our opponents as we perfect our style of play,” La-Force said. “We are not focused on our record, our goal is to execute and to be disciplined. Once we can accomplish that, we give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Rams look to grab their second win of the year against Columbia University on Monday night at 7 p.m.