Hawks surge past Gordon in blowout, advance to CCC semis

Senior Rebecca Ritchie tears past Gordon’s defense and crashes the net.

Britney Dixon, Sports Manager

After the Roger Williams University women’s basketball team endured their first loss since their head-to-head with Curry College in early January, they knew they needed to rekindle the fire before playoffs.

While playoffs were a ways away, the result was a 13-game winning streak, jettisoning the team to the top of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) heading into last Saturday’s regular season finale with Endicott College.

Endicott, however, put a damper on RWU’s senior day. A loss to the Gulls put the Hawks at the No. 2 spot in the conference heading into this week. On Tuesday night, Feb. 20, RWU opened the CCC quarterfinals with a matchup against No. 7 Gordon College.

When Roger Williams faced off against Gordon last week on Feb. 13, the win came particularly easily. With Gordon riding a few of their starters on the bench, the Hawks were able to take advantage of the inexperienced Fighting Scots, winning 70-44.

According to Hawks Head Coach Kelly Thompson, the Fighting Scots had a difficult offense to defend despite her team winning by a sizeable margin. Coming off the win last week, this game “could have been a trap, for sure,” she said.

In the first quarter, Gordon kept the score tight, trailing only 17-13 after 10 minutes of play. In the second quarter, the Hawks doubled down defensively, holding the Fighting Scots to a mere six points in the period, en route to a 30-19 halftime lead.

Lighting the fire became especially obvious in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game. The Hawks regrouped at the half from a poor 20 minutes on offense and came back full force, shooting just shy of 58 percent from the field. 

Senior Mariah Nicholas shot 65 percent on the game with a bounce-back effort of 28 points and seven rebounds, worthy of her CCC Player of the Year nomination. The Hawks also got strong contributions from their bench in the win. Sophomore Sam Leone added 11 points and five rebounds off the bench, while senior captain Stephanie Bramante shot 60 percent for six points and six rebounds off the bench as well.

The Hawks achieved a few of their continuous individual game goals as well, limiting Gordon to only 36 points, committing only seven turnovers, and passed the ball well. Hawks senior captain Rebecca Ritchie carried out her point guard duties well, leading the way with six of the team’s 25 assists.

“As a whole, we passed the ball really well,” Thompson said. “There were a lot of good contributions. We didn’t shoot well from downtown…but we found other ways to score.”

Looking toward the semifinals against No. 3 Endicott College, the energy needs to stay high. According to Thompson, the defense needs to be tougher. On Saturday, the Hawks allowed double the points in the first half of the game and did not take high quality shots. In senior captain Anna Walther’s opinion, the Hawks were not in the right mindset last week.

“For next game, we need to come in mentally ready and giving 100 percent effort,” Walther said.

Walther said the Hawks’ best games come from performing the fundamentals at their highest capacity and simply moving the ball around and playing as a team on both sides of the court.

Thompson approached practice in a “businesslike” fashion following the Endicott loss, focusing on how to prepare for Gordon.

“After the game I told them, you can be mad about it tonight, but tomorrow we need to focus on Gordon.”

The Hawks certainly got the message, dominating the Fighting Scots from start to finish in a 76-38 blowout.

The Hawks face Endicott one last time at home on Thursday in the CCC semifinals. Continuing the one game at a time attitude, the focus will remain on staying tough on defense and smart on offense.

“We need to play like it’s our last game,” Walther said.