The University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team (12-18) had their season end this past weekend in a quarter-final loss against Saint Louis University, 70-59 in the Atlantic-10 Championships, following an 81-76 second win versus Saint Joseph’s University the day before.
Rhode Island won their first game in the Atlantic-10 Championship Tournament in the second round upsetting higher seeded Saint Joseph’s. Charise Wilson led the way with 24 points and eight assists while senior forward Samantha Tabakman led the team in rebounds with 10 to go along with 14 points.
Four of the five Rhode Island starters finished in double figures. Senior Tayra Melendez tallied 15 points, going 4-4 from three-point range, to surpass 1,000 points for her career.
Rhode Island led St. Joes 38-34 at halftime and outscored the Hawks 25-16 in the third quarter. St. Joes cut the lead in the fourth, but the Rams were able to hold on to a five point win, and a spot in the A-10 Quarterfinals.
“I think this is a great win for our program, we haven’t had a win in a month,” head coach Daynia La-Force said. “We joked about it in the locker room, but this has been hell for us.”
In what would be Rhode Island’s final game of the season, the Rams refused to leave without a fight against the tournament’s No. 2 seed, St. Louis University. In the fourth quarter, Rhode Island fought all the way back from a 21-point deficit to tie the game. Â Trailing 41-29 at the half, URI was able to catch up in the third quarter as their defense kept the Billikens under 10 for the quarter.
The Rams trailed by just three going into the final quarter of regulation, 48-45. They tied the game when Wilson was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer and knocked down all three free throws evening the score, 48-48.
St. Louis however broke away on a 10-0 run for the majority of the final frame, effectively ending the Rams tournament run. Wilson led the team in points and assists with 18 and five, respectively, while also adding eight rebounds.
Seniors Tayra Melendez and Samantha Tabakman each had good performances in their final game for Rhode Island, both scoring 13 points, with Tabakman adding nine rebounds and two blocked shots.
Saint Louis was led by guard Jackie Kempf – the league’s co-player of the year – with 18 points and eight assists. She was also a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe.
“We played a team tonight that had the coach of the year, player of the year and was number one in our conference, and we knew as a result it was going to be a tough fight,” La-Force said. “The fact we were down 22 and continued to fight back is the intensity I expect to see from my team going into next season.”