The University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team earned their Atlantic 10 Conference victory of the season, edging Duquesne University, 71-69, Saturday afternoon to bring their 19-game losing streak to a close.
The Rams (5-22, 1-14) took on the Dukes of Duquesne (14-14, 7-8) at the Ryan Center in a game they desperately wanted to win so that their seemingly endless freefall deep into the A-10 basement could come to a merciful end. The Rams were looking for their first win since late November.
URI was able to rally from 12 points down in order to triumph on Saturday. They only committed 16 turnovers compared to their season average of 19 and were also able to make free throws down the stretch, connecting on 83 percent of their attempts in the fourth quarter.
“We figured out what it takes to win, it takes heart and hustle,” head coach Daynia La-Force said.
Junior Charise Wilson returned to the court for the Rams after missing the last seven games with an injury. She finished the game with 25 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 35 minutes of action. WIlson shot 6-of-16 from the field, and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. The point guard also attacked the rim often, reminding the A-10 why she is second in scoring, as she repeatedly drew contact and went 10-of-11 from the free throw line. La-Force knows how important Wilson is to the team, and is certainly glad to have the high-impact player back in the starting rotation.
“She is a sigh of relief,” La-Force said. “She plays so hard and gets her teammates involved. She is our emotional catalyst, having her out there is good for all of our girls knowing their leader is in charge.”
Both teams found their shooting rhythm from 3-point range, as they each eclipsed 60 percent. Neither team had much of an advantage on the stats sheet, but the Rams did go to the charity stripe eight more times than Duquesne. Overall though it was not quantity, but timely free throw shooting that ultimately decided the game. The score was tied at 68 until WIlson made two free throws give the Rams back the lead, which they had held for most of the fourth quarter after an early 7-0 run, with less than 30 seconds remaining on the clock. Wilson then made what could have been a costly foul on Kadri-Ann Lass had the Duke not gone 1-of-2. Dominique Ward breathed life into Duquesne though, when she also missed a free throw. The Rams avoided the heart wrenching loss, and instead celebrated with the long-awaited victory as Duquesne’s COnor RIchardson could not connect from downtown on the potential game-winning shot.
URI freshman Nicole Jorgensen complemented Wilson’s scoring barrage with her own defensive flury, registering a career-high five blocks to go along with eight points, and six rebounds, as she earned A-10 women’s basketball Rookie of the Week. The accolade awarded Jorgenson’s 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots over the last two games for the Rams. She scored a career-high 27 points and had eight rebounds to lead Rhode Island in both categories in a loss at George Mason. On the other side, Duquesne sophomore Guard Chassidy Omogrosso caught fire in the second half, going 5-of-6 from 3-point land and finishing with 25 points and two assists.
The Rams played their last home game of the season last night against the University of Massachusetts Amherst, winning a hard-fought contest, 53-50. They now prepare for the A-10 Tournament.