The University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team (4-19, 0-11-Atlantic 10 ) has had a tough 2016-17 season thus far, which has only gotten tougher with star guard Charise Wilson missing the last four games, the last being a 67-51 loss at the University of Richmond last Sunday.
Rhode Island started the first half strong, especially from 3-point range as they connected on five three’s compared to Richmond’s two. Richmond guard Janelle Hubbard helped her team maintain their first-half lead by scoring a team-high 12 points. Junior guard Dominique Ward led URI in the first half with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, with four rebounds and a steal as the Rams trailed 30-24 at halftime.
Rhode Island began the second half with a three pointer by junior guard Morgan Johnson to cut the deficit to just three. The momentum, however, was short-lived as the Spiders took over on offense. They went on a 12-0 run to grow their lead to a comfortable 15-point cushion, and never looked back. The Rams were able to bring the Spiders lead down to 10, but never again came within single digits of their offensively-scorching opponents (shot nearly 59 percent in second half). Hubbard led the way for the Spiders in the second half, scoring 13 points to give her a game-high 25.
Rams head coach Daynia La-Force felt that her team was unable to make all the right changes necessary keep the game close.
“I think the second half was a half of adjustments and Richmond made some adjustments by shooting the ball better and running some different stuff against our zone defense,” La-Force said. “We were unable to match their intensity and their adjustments. Defensively we gave up a lot more threes and weren’t communicating as much resulting in a lot of wide open shots. On the offensive end, we weren’t able to connect as well as we were in the first half.”
Richmond’s bench outscored Rhode Island’s 24-7 for the game, and had 19 second-chance points to URI’s five. Junior Morgan Johnson led the Rams in scoring, totaling 14 points. Ward added 13 points, along with eight rebounds and a career-high five steals.
The young underclassmen of Rhode Island also contributed as they gain experience in their young collegiate careers. Sophomore Dina Motrechuk had three blocks (now fifth place all time in program history with 66), sophomore Josie Chaves added three assists and three rebounds, and freshman Ednaija Lassiter had seven points, four steals and two rebounds.
“We are trying to make up for the lack of scoring with a lot of youth and inexperience, and that’s tough,” La-Force said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing a lot of minutes and learning on the job. It is expected that they are making some mistakes. But the future is bright, because they are gaining valuable experience this year, which will make them much better come next year when it is time to be competitive.”
Rhode Island’s next matchup faced the third best team in the Atlantic-10 conference, when they host George Washington University at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Ryan Center (results too late, see gorhody.com)
“I want to see our team play with a competitive spirit, team chemistry, teamwork, and individual players working to improve on their weaknesses to gain some confidence,” La-Force said. “Everyone is gaining valuable experience and learning exactly what it takes to be successful in the A-10, and there is no better time than in the present to learn that in order to have a solid future.”