RICHMOND,VA (WWAY) — Senior Brittany Blackwell scored 14 points to lead five Seahawk players in double figures as UNCW defeated Richmond, 63-54, in the first round of the Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament Thursday at the Robins Center.
In the first meeting between the two former Colonial Athletic Association rivals since the 2000-01 season, the Seahawks improved to 24-8 and advanced to the second round of the Postseason WNIT, where they will face Eastern Michgan Monday at 7 p.m. at Trask Coliseum. Richmond slipped to 18-13 as it saw its season come to a close.
Blackwell highlighted a balanced UNCW attack that finished the game shooting 39.6 percent from the field, highlighted by a 44.4 percent effort from the floor in the final 20 minutes. Senior Martha White, junior Kristen Hanzer, sophomore Jessica Freeman and freshman Alisha Andrews all pitched in 10 points while White added a game-high eight rebounds. Andrews also dished out a game-high six assists and Blackwell tallied four steals as she became the program’s single-season steals leader during the contest.
Senior Crystal Goring scored a game-high 17 points and added seven rebounds to lead Richmond, who shot 42.0 percent from the field and held a 32-30 advantage on the glass but was unable to overcome a season-high 31 turnovers. Senior Brittani Shells added 13 points and junior Abby Oliver pitched in 11.
Trailing 28-26 at the start of the second half, the Seahawks benefitted from five Spiders miscues to score 12 of the first 16 points of the frame and build a 38-32 cushion.
The Spiders responded to the UNCW run, using a 6-2 mini-spurt over a 2:25 stretch to pull within two, 40-38.
The Seahawks once again put some distance between themselves and Richmond, scoring eight of 10 points after the Spiders mini-run to push their lead back to eight, 48-40, with 6:50 on the clock.
A pair of free-throws by redshirt junior Samantha Bilney and a layup by freshman Leah Johnson would trim the Seahawks advantage to four, 48-44. UNCW answered the Spiders charge, however, scoring eight of the next 12 points to regain their eight-point cushion, 54-46, at the 3:05 mark of the frame.
The two sides would go almost two minutes without a basket until a three-pointer by Goring with 78 seconds left to play put the Spiders within five, 56-51.
Andews and Hanzer would keep Richmond from drawing any closer, however, as the duo teamed up to score the Seahawks final seven points and give UNCW the nine-point victory.
Earlier in the contest, Richmond opened the game on a 10-0 run and held a 12-3 advantage when a pair of free-throws by Hanzer and back-to-back layups by Blackwell made it a 12-8 contest.
The Spiders tallied six of the next eight points to stretch their advantage back to nine, 18-9, before a pair of free-throws by Hanzer sparked a 14-2 run that lasted more than five minutes and gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game, 23-20.
Richmond responded to the spurt, closing the frame on an 8-3 run, highlighted by a running jumper Shells at final seconds that put the Spiders ahead, 28-26, heading into the halftime break.
Article courtesy UNCW Sports Information
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