Minutewomen Handle URI, 59-45
Dec. 9, 2002
KINGSTON, R.I. -- Senior Nekole Smith (Ann Arbor, Mich.) scored a game-high 18 points, 14 of them coming in the second half, as the University of Massachusetts (6-1, 1-0) women's basketball team handed the University of Rhode Island (6-1, 0-1) its first loss of the season, 59-45, this evening in Atlantic 10 conference action at the Ryan Center. At 6-1, UMass is off to its best start since the 1978-79 season where the squad began the year 6-1 en route to an 18-7 overall record.
UMass, which led by as many as 21 points in the second half, saw its lead trimmed to 12 at the 2:21 mark, but limited the Rams to just one point the rest of the way for the conference victory. The Minutewomen started the game on a 12-0 run before URI finally got on the board at the 16:09 mark.
In addition to Smith's 18 points, she pulled down a season-high eight rebounds. Senior Jen Butler (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added 14 points and 11 rebounds. The double-double was her fifth of the season and 46th for her career. Sophomore Katie Nelson (Ellicott City, Md.) added 11 points and four assists. All of her points came in the first half on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point land and was 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Senior Amber Sneed (Cincinnati, Ohio) tied a season-high with eight points, all in the second half. Smith continued her hot shooting from the charity stripe, converting on all six of her attempts. With her 11 rebounds, Butler became the first Minutewoman in history to eclipse the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound plateau.
For the game, Massachusetts shot .413 (19-46), while holding the Rams to .274 (17-62). UMass out-rebounded the Rams, 40-38. URI came into the contest with a +5.8 rebounding margin. UMass was .750 (18-24) from the free-throw line, while URI was just .500 (7-14).
UMass led by as many as 14 points at 24-10 in the first half, and Rhode Island never got any closer than nine points after the Minutewomen's initial 12-0 run to start the game. UMass led by 10, 28-18 at the break. Butler scored seven points and pulled down 11 rebounds. UMass shot .429 (9-21) from the field, while holding the Rams to a .241 (7-29) clip. UMass out-rebounded URI, 21-16, but committed 12 turnovers to the Rams' seven.
URI guard Shayla Johnson came into the game as its leading scorer, averaging 16.8 point per game, but was limited to just four this evening by a suffocating UMass defense. She was 0-for-7 from the field, and 4-of-6 from the free throw line. Denise King led the Rams with 17 points and nine boards. Katie Stalling added 10 points and 13 boards in the loss.
The 45 points scored by the Rams were a season-low for them as well as a UMass opponent. With the win, the Minutewomen have now won 12 of the last 14 meetings between the two schools.
Massachusetts returns home on Wednesday, Dec. 11, for a non-conference game against 6-0 Villanova. The game, which is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m., will be played at the historic Curry Hicks Cage. It is the first basketball game in the Cage since the Minutewomen trounced Temple, 82-40 on Feb. 18, 1995. Overall, the Minutewomen are 124-107 (.537) in the Cage. The first 500 fans will receive a free t-shirt and there will be plenty of prizes and give-a-ways throughout the game.