Kassondra Brown drives into the lane. Photo by Ian Weiner.

There has been a certain vibe surrounding the women’s basketball team since they hired Head Coach Tammi Reiss last April, as many feel that she can be the one that resurrects a program that has made its home at the bottom of the Atlantic 10 standings.

As an assistant coach at Syracuse, Reiss helped the Orange to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a National Championship appearance in 2016. 

Head Coach Tammi Reiss.

Her experience on the biggest stages will be beneficial for a program that has not been to the NCAA tournament since 1996. 

The Rams opened up the Tammi Reiss era with a 79-56 victory against the Long Island Sharks. This was their third victory during their season opener in the last 10 years. 

After a slow start in the first quarter, the Rams broke the game open with a 26-point second quarter. 

“I told them to be patient and execute our offense,” Reiss said on what she told the girls in the huddle between the first and second quarters. “[Move the ball] side to side until we break down their defense.” 

Senior Center Nicole Jorgensen led the Rams with 29 points and six rebounds. She was followed by Erin Jones, who had 12 points and Davida Dale and Marta Vargas, who each had 10 points. 

“My team looked for me a lot in the high-low game,” said Jorgensen. “We said look high-low and play inside-out because they were a lot smaller than me.” 

Coach Reiss was extremely impressed with her team’s performance last Thursday. 

“I’m so excited for the girls,” Reiss said. “We talked about how they ended last year losing by about 50 or 60 and how that’s not their identity. It’s a new day, it’s a new era and they are a new team. To come out and have them play like that, it was just the best feeling for them.” 

For the Sharks, guard Brandy Thomas led the way with 14 points. She was followed by Shyla Sanford, who had 13, and Jeydah Johnson, who had eight. 

On Sunday, the Rams headed to the University of Hartford to face the Hawks in a matinee matchup. Coming into the game, senior Nicole Jorgensen only needed 10 points to reach 1,000 points total in her career. 

Rhody came out the gate with a 16-8 lead against the Hawks in the first quarter, thanks to 12 points from the free-throw line and a strong defensive effort that held the Hawks without a field goal for the first six minutes of the quarter. 

In the second quarter, Jorgensen reached 1,000 points by hitting a jump shot with 8:52 left in the period. The Rams were able to stretch their lead to 20 thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from freshman forward Brazil Harvey-Carr, but the Hawks clawed back to bring the deficit to 14 at the half. 

In the final two quarters, the Rams maintained a double-digit lead thanks to the playing of Erin Jones and Marta Vargas, who scored eight and seven points respectively in the second half. 

Erin Jones goes up for a layup. Photo by Ian Weiner.

Nicole Jorgensen led all scorers with 23 points, 13 rebounds and knocked down all 13 of her free throw attempts. She was followed by Erin Jones, who had a career-high 14 points and Marta Vargas, who finished with nine. 

For the Hawks, guard Jada Lucas led with 21 points. She was followed by Charlette Leurs, who scored 10 points off the bench. 

As a result of her performances on Thursday and Sunday, Nicole Jorgensen was named A-10 Player of the Week. 

The Rams return to the court on Friday, Nov. 15 when they head to North Dakota to face the Fighting Hawks at noon.