The University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team (4-3) has been on a three-game winning streak, and sophomore center Dina Motrechuk has been an improved contributor on both ends of the court early on in her sophomore season.

In the Rams’ (4-3) most recent win Tuesday night, their third straight,  Motrechuk helped the team to a 64-57 win at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with seven rebounds and one assist. Before that, however, she had already made an impact as a go-to scoring option in the paint. The Staten Island, New York native is

Rising star Dena Motrechuk giving URI a much needed presence in the paint in the 2016-2017 campaign. Photo courtesy of Alex Rimoshytus.
Rising star Dena Motrechuk giving URI a much needed presence in the paint in the 2016-2017 campaign. Photo
courtesy of Alex Rimoshytus.

well on her way to fulfilling a pivotal role on the team in her breakthrough season.

Motrechuk, 6-foot-5, made her first career start for Rhode Island against No. 20/21 Syracuse University, and earned her first ever double-double, scoring 16 points and pulling down 13 rebounds to go with two blocks. Even with a solid outing against a quality opponent, Motrechuk remains frustrated by the outcome of the 95-49 loss where Syracuse scored 39 points in the fourth quarter.

“My first start being against a great team in Syracuse could have been a lot closer of a game,” Motrechuk said. “In the fourth quarter we gave up a lot of points and hurt ourselves.”

Motrechuk has developed quickly in just her second season, getting an increased role following the departure of seniors Tayra Melendez and Samantha Tabakman. Motrechuk has made improvements to her game in a season where she has proven herself in all aspects of the game. She is averaging 7.6 points per game, has 14 blocked shots, and 44 rebounds on the young season.

“One of the things I focused on from last year to this year was getting my footwork down,” Motrechuk said. “My coach (Daynia La-Force) puts an emphasis on playing face up on the inside post and making cuts around the basket. My footwork has really allowed me to improve on that end along with my confidence being much higher this year, allowing me to get in the flow of the game a lot easier.”

During her freshman year, Motrechuk was behind Tabakman, who averaged 13.3 points  and 7.8 rebounds on 32.3 minutes of playing time per game. Motrechuk says she learned a lot from the way Tabakman played as she faced her in practice and watched her in games.

“She (Tabakman) was a little undersized, but no matter who she played against and what their size was, she would have these finesse moves around the basket,” Motrechuk said. “That was something I definitely paid attention to, along with her footwork.”

Motrechuk is happy with her team’s current winning streak, but wants to continue improving in a season in which she will have more responsibility to produce along with her teammates. The team’s success is dependent on the ability of the secondary options to provide ample reinforcement for preseason all-conference player, Charise Wilson. Motrechuk is not worried about the team’s consistency going forward as she says the chemistry is great.

“This year we’ve had some great wins, but we’ve really been playing for each other, always having each other’s backs,” Motrechuk said. “I think that is something that really separates us from a lot of other teams.”

Motrechuk will be integral going forward, as a consistently strong post presence will be necessary if the Rams are hoping to exceed expectations this year.

The women’s basketball team’s next game is at Brown University this Saturday at 3 p.m. where Motrechuk and her team look for continued growth and success.