Sophie Phillips put up a team-high 20 points in Monday’s win, just one point short of her career-high. PHOTO CREDIT: gorhody.com
The Rhode Island Rams women’s basketball team defeated the University of Richmond Spiders 74-64 in the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) to claim their second postseason victory in program history on Monday.
These two programs faced off earlier in the season as Atlantic 10 rivals, with the Rams defeating the Spiders 75-49, defending their home court at the Ryan Center on January 18th.
After a rough start to their round one game against Boston University on Friday, Rhode Island was looking to come out of the tip strong. URI jumped out to an early 17-13 lead, yet they did not accomplish their goal of shooting well. The Rams shot 5-17 (29.4%) to start the game, an improvement from Friday’s 3-16 start from the field. The second quarter is where the Rams began to accomplish their goal of “shooting the lights out”, as head coach Tammi Reiss said prior to the matchup. URI shot 9-16 from the field, over 56%. Reiss discussed postgame the difference in scoring between Friday and Monday’s matchups.
“The rust was off today, the lid on the basket was off,” Reiss said. “[I am] really happy with how we shot the ball, [with] our movement and our pace.”
The Rams outscored Richmond 23-17 in the second quarter, helping them go into halftime with a healthy 40-30 lead. Second-year guard Sophie Phillips discussed postgame how she kept her confidence up after a rough stretch of games for her.
“I’ve known that I can shoot the ball all year long so it’s not anything different,” Phillips said. “My teammates believe in me so I just have to keep going and do the same thing I always do.”
Phillips shot 7-10 from the field and 6-9 from behind the arc on Monday, on her way to scoring 20 points, the leader for the Rams. Phillips continued to praise her teammates even when she was asked about how it felt to be the leading scorer in such a monumental game.
“It feels amazing but anybody on our team could have stepped up and done that,” Phillips said. “We do that every single game, it can be anybody, it just happened to be me tonight.”
After the halftime break, the Rams continued to shoot well, going 7-14 from the field and 4-7 from behind the three point line extending Rhode Island’s advantage to 14. The Rams left the third quarter with a 60-45 lead, setting them up for the win. URI also capitalized in transition in the third period of play, scoring eight fast break points stemming from defensive efforts on the other end of the court.
Reiss shared her thoughts on her team’s defense and rebounding postgame.
“Really really proud number one of our defensive effort today,” she said.
Reiss also discussed the team’s mood prior to the matchups with the Spiders and how that played a role in the victory.
“We had fun today,” Reiss said. “I think for the first time in shootaround the whole day was fun and we would look forward to playing, there was no pressure.”
With the new fun approach, the Rams fourth quarter effort was not as strong as the first three, but the team got the job done without putting too much pressure on themselves as Reiss mentioned. Richmond outscored URI 19-14 in the final period of play, but with the lead they had built up earlier they were able to cruise to the finish line and claim their second ever postseason victory, while advancing to the Super 16 round of the WNIT.
In the Super 16 round, the Rams will travel north to Cambridge, Massachusetts to face Harvard. Rhody will take on the Crimson at the Lavietes Pavilion at 7 p.m. on Thursday, looking to advance to the Great Eight for the first time ever.