Aggressive Defense Falls Short as Roger Williams Downs Women’s Basketball

Aggressive Defense Falls Short as Roger Williams Downs Women’s Basketball

BRISTOL, R.I. - The Curry College women's basketball team did not have enough to overcome conference opponent Roger Williams on Tuesday night, falling short by a final score of 59-55 on the campus of Roger Williams University. In defeat, the Colonels fall to 6-7 on the year, but still boast a winning record in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) play at 3-2, while the victory moves Roger Williams up to 5-10 overall and pulls their CCC record back to even at 3-3. Though the visiting Colonels were able to keep the game close in the waning minutes of the contest, the Hawks secured five offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter to keep the seconds ticking off the clock.

Curry won the opening tip but soon got a sign of things to come as a three point attempt by senior captain Emily Irwin (Billerica, Mass.) was blocked by guard Sam Leone (Ashland, Mass.). Roger Williams went down the floor and also unsuccessfully fired from behind the arc, but an offensive rebound led to the first points of the game when freshman Karli Opalka (Southbury, Conn.) put in a second chance layup. The teams traded points throughout the first quarter, but neither team led by more than two points until a converted and-1 by Sam Mancinelli (Peabody, Mass.) put the hosts up by four at 15-11. Roger Williams looked to extend their advantage even further after a missed layup on Curry's ensuing possession, but freshly into the game, Zuquila Mbachiantim (Stratford, Conn.) sent the ball the other way with a steal. With the ball in Curry's control, Irwin would end a Colonels scoreless streak of over three minutes with a helper from senior Molly Plunkett (Quincy, Mass.), but this brought the visitors only to within three, as the quarter closed with Roger Williams up 16-13.

The Hawks got the ball to begin the second frame, but promptly turned it over on a traveling violation. The first three minutes of the quarter saw very little scoring, as both defenses surrendered just one basket apiece. However, the Colonels began to have trouble avoiding the whistle, registering 9 personal fouls in the first half, which afforded the Hawks 13 free throws attempts, of which they converted seven. Along with their foul troubles, the Colonels looked rushed on offense and unable to get on the same page, perhaps missing junior guard and regular starter Sam Bamford (Easton, Mass.) who was unable to play. Another scoreless streak, this one reaching nearly five minutes, was not broken until Caroline Kilduff (Rockland, Mass.) put home a jumper off an assist from Irwin with 2:19 remaining in the half. The Hawks would head to the break on a 5-0 run, which included an impressive possession in which they posted a block by Emily Yonych (Chesire, Conn.), and an offensive rebound by Opalka, who also drove home a second chance basket.

Roger Williams kicked off the second half with the ball, but again handed it over via the steal. However, Curry's offense came into the new frame stagnant and suffered a pair of blocks, again by Yonych. However, after a missed layup, freshman Peyton Perine (Fairfax, Va.) brought the ball down the court and put in a layup while drawing a foul on Yonych. The and-1 started the scoring for the second half and pulled Curry to within six points. An aggressive defensive attack, led by Irwin, forced a bad pass and saw it converted into a three by Plunkett on the other side of the floor. Just over a minute later, another Plunkett basket from three-point land drew the visitors to within five, but a Curry steal on the following Roger Williams possession which seemed to have points written all over it wouldn't fall, which led to freshman Amanda Leal (Tyngsboro, Mass.) being called for a foul trying to prevent the fast break going the other way. Leal would pull Curry to within four at 32-28 thanks to a pair of converted free throws, but the momentum quickly swung back to Roger Williams, who extended their lead to 37-28 off a Leone three, forcing Curry to call a time-out with 4:02 remaining in the third. After another Hawks score from behind the arc, this time from Margarita Delaporta (Canton, Mass.), a Curry travel gave the ball back to the Hawks, who extended their lead to 13 after drawing a rare foul from Irwin, who has averaged just 2.25 fouls per game over her last eight contests. Leal would pour in five more points as the quarter faded, but five consecutive missed field goals by Curry would allow the hosts to take a five point lead into the final period.

The Colonels put forth a calm and collected comeback effort, but untimely fouls, coupled with lengthy possessions and offensive rebounds by the Hawks proved to be too much to overcome. Irwin attempted to take matters into her own hands, registering 15 fourth quarter points, but suffered a scary moment when a hard hit put her on the ground when fighting for a late rebound with just over six minutes left to go in regulation. The Colonels would end the game on a 13-4 run to get close but simply did not have enough time to work with as they fell short by a final score of 59-55.

The Hawks were paced by a double-double from Opalka, who led the victors in points (16), rebounds (13), and assists (3), while her teammate Mancinelli also registered a trio of helpers. Perine, coming off her fifth straight CCC rookie of the week honor, led the Colonels with 20 points while Mbachiantim recorded the guests' only block. Irwin drove the Colonels from both sides of the ball, posting team highs in assists (7) as well as rebounds (12) to go along with 18 points of her own to register her fourth double-double of the season and 19th of her collegiate career. Additionally, with four more steals in the contest, Irwin extends her conference lead in the stat column with 57 on the season. Her closest competition at the top of list is her own teammate, Bamford, with 29.

Curry will play next on Thursday, January 10th at 5:30 P.M. at home against the University of New England, another CCC opponent. Roger Williams will also continue their CCC schedule, as they will travel to face Gordon on Saturday, January 12th at 1:00 P.M.

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