From buzzer beater to buzzer beaten – women’s basketball drop first conference game

Phillips was the only Ram in double figures in the loss vs. Umass, recording 12 points. PHOTO CREDIT: Connor Zisk

It was a turbulent week for the University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team, who suffered their first two conference losses of the season despite a midweek win at Saint Joseph’s.

The week started with one of most highly-anticipated matchups of the season in the Atlantic-10, as the second-place University of Massachusetts came to Kingston to face the league-leading Rams in front of over 2,000 fans.

Rhode Island boasted a perfect 12-0 record in conference coming into the game. The Minutewomen were not far behind, suffering only one loss in the Atlantic 10 – against Rhode Island – on Jan. 4th.

It was Massachusetts who came out with early momentum in the late-season rematch, as they went on a 9-0 run to establish an early lead and never looked back. URI had trouble controlling the game throughout the first quarter, trailing by as much as 15 before going into the second quarter down 24-13.

In truly unfamiliar territory at home, Rhode Island were able to find their feet in the second quarter. Despite this, they could not do enough to dig themselves out of the early hole, as UMass were able to maintain their early lead, going into the half leading 39-28.

Rhode Island trimmed the lead down to nine three separate times in the second half, but that’s as close as the score would get, as UMass would come away with the 78-57 win. 

It was the first loss at home all season for the Rams, who were outrebounded 51-29. URI would allow 21 offensive rebounds that led to 21 second-chance points for the Minutewomen.

“The thing I think I’m most disappointed in is our defense and rebounding,” head coach Tammi Reiss said following the loss. “21 offensive boards, that’s all you have to say. You got punched, and you didn’t punch back. We didn’t punch back.”

Despite the loss, Reiss had to find a way to move on as her team had a two-day turnaround before hitting the road for another vital conference clash vs. Saint Joseph’s. 

The Rams needed a big performance to bounce back, and that’s exactly what they got vs. the St. Joe’s Hawks. Having taken down the Hawks in double overtime at home at the end of January, both teams were very familiar with their opponent.

A slow start would once again plague the Rams, as St. Joe’s shot 4-for-6 from beyond the arc to fuel a 16-4 run to start the game. Rhode Island once again found themselves having to play catch-up in the early stages, going into the second quarter trailing 18-8.

Trailing 25-14 with just under seven minutes to go in the half, URI were finally able to find their momentum, going on an 11-0 run to knot the score at 25 going into the break.

A back-and-forth second half would see nine lead changes and eight ties, but it was Rhode Island who would eventually come out on top in heart-stopping fashion. With four seconds left on the clock, Sophie Phillips threw up a last-second contested effort from beyond the arc with the score tied at 55. The shot found the basket with just 1.1 seconds to go, as the Rams pulled away with a vital road victory. 

“I knew that I’d be one of the first options coming off the screen, so if I was open, I knew I had to take it,” Phillips said. 

The Rams once again had a quick turnaround, as a two-game road stretch would continue with a trip to New York to take on Fordham on Sunday in another top-100 matchup. 

It was another game that came down to the wire, and this time it was Rhody that took the first-quarter lead, going into the break with a 19-13 lead. Fordham kept up the pressure, however, rallying back to tie the score at 30 going into the halftime break.

Fordham would explode offensively out of the halftime break, shooting almost 53% from the field and scoring 26 points to give the Rams a double-digit lead. Fordham would bring this momentum into the final quarter, taking a 13-point lead with just under seven minutes to play.

With their backs to the wall late in the fourth, URI would do the impossible, storming back to tie the game at 65 and forcing overtime. 

Trailing 73-71 lead with just four seconds to go, Fordham’s Anna Dewolfe threw up a desperation heave from beyond the arc. The shot fell, giving Fordham the win after a rollercoaster of a night.

From beating the buzzer to getting beaten at the buzzer, it was a bumpy ride for a week for URI women’s basketball. However, a UMass loss vs. St. Louis means that the Rams have a chance to clinch the Atlatnic 10 regular season title with a win vs. Dayton on Saturday, pending other results. Tip-off at The Ryan Center is scheduled for 2 p.m. on ESPN+.