Just two months before the beginning of the 2015 season, the University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team looks ready to build off their 17-win season last year.
The Rams are focused on making improvements, competing at a high level and changing the reputation of URI women’s basketball.
“We are very excited about this upcoming season,” head coach Daynia La-Force said. “I think it will give us another opportunity to be a winning program.”
Following an 0-2 start to the season last year, the Rams went on a six-game winning streak, their longest win streak since the 2007 season. They finished the year by recording their first winning season in 11 years after finishing 17-13.
“I think there will still be people out there who thought last year was luck and we have to continue to prove them wrong,” La-Force said.
The Rams will be tested by a solid non-conference opponent when they open the season against Syracuse University, who went 22-9 before advancing to the NCAA Championship round of 32 last year.
The Rams travel to play Marshall University on Nov. 18, who finished with a 17-15 record last season. Three days later, they will participate in a doubleheader tournament in Kingston against Harvard University, and then either the University of Albany or the University of Toledo on Nov. 22. Albany lost in the NCAA tournament last season after coming up short against Duke University in the first round by two points, and Toledo played in the NIT tournament after finishing 18-13.
The Rams will face UMass Lowell at home on Nov. 28 before a three-game road slate that includes games against Brown University, Dartmouth College and Boston University in an eight-day span. Brown, Dartmouth and Boston University had a combined record of 29-57 last season.
The Rams will participate in a two-day tournament at Florida International in Miami, Florida, on Dec. 28 and 29. They’ll face FIU on Dec. 28, and then will face either the University of Wake Forest or Hampton University the next day.
“This year we still have to continue to change the reputation of URI women’s basketball,” La-Force said. “We still have to continue to build our solid foundation as a team.”
Last season, the Rams made just 29 percent of free throws and 38 percent of 3-pointers, something Coach La-Force believes the Rams will be focused on this season.
“We expect the new additions to provide depth, and scoring ability,” La-Force said. “They all are great scorers.”
The addition of 5-foot-8 freshman Laura Perez in the backcourt adds versatility and depth to the team. “Perez is a terrific shooter on the perimeter and does a great job at getting to the basket,” LaForce said.
6-foot-2 freshman forward Jalissa Ross, 6-foot-5 freshman Dina Motrechuk and 6-foot-1 freshman Amari Johnson also provide quality depth, speed and size to the Rams this season.
“We want to make sure we continue to take positive steps and avoid taking steps backwards,” La-Force said. “All of the girls are wearing navy blue bracelets this year that say chasing 20, because I want it to be a constant reminder of where we’re trying to take this program this year.”