The Collegian
Saturday, July 04, 2020

Richmond triumphs over North Carolina A&T after dominant start

The University of Richmond's women's basketball team carried a perfect streak in free-throw shot during Wednesday's game against the North Carolina A&T Aggies.

"We had those free throws and we knocked them down," said head coach Michael Shafer. Sophomore Keri Soppe, who overall contributed eight points and two assists, called the flawless average impressive.

The game also marked the first following confirmation that junior Genevieve Okoro would officially be out for the remainder of the season, Shafer said. Okoro suffered a torn ACL last week playing against Wichita State during a tournament in Cancun, Mexico.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has called Okoro the team's most promising player.

Shafer said Okoro averaged a double-double and could not be solely replaced by any other player. "It means were going to need a team effort," he said. "When you lose somebody, you have to try as a group -- collectively -- to pick up their strengths."

Throughout the game against North Carolina A&T, the Spiders maintained a consistent lead over the Aggies. Junior Kristina King initiated that lead, making a 3-point shot just four seconds into the start.

The Spiders brought a lot of energy to the court, particularly during the first half, leading in double the points by 44-22.

The Aggies struggled to keep possession of the ball, with 14 turnovers in the first half, compared to eight for Richmond. The Aggies also grappled with shooting, making less than a third of baskets, whereas Richmond successfully made over half, despite both teams attempting nearly same amount.

With 10 minutes remaining before halftime, King brought forward an assist, immediately followed by a steal, a layup and another steal, to give the Spiders a 20-point advantage.

By the second half, Richmond lost some of its momentum. "Our intensity dropped," Soppe said, adding that she wasn't sure why.

Shafer said the Spiders were focused early on but by the second half, the Aggies had become the aggressors on the court. "We weren't able to match their aggressiveness and that concerns me heading into the next few games," Shafer said.

"We resorted to a half-court basketball game and it became a drag," he said.

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The Spiders nonetheless made six 3-pointer during the second half, one by freshman Lauren Tolson, another by junior Becca Wann and four by senior Rachael Bilney. Bilney, who is the team's lead scorer, totaled 17 points in the game.

Shafer said the team needed to prepare for good rebounding in its next game against James Madison University on Sunday.

Contact reporter Mara Lugo at mara.lugorudner@richmond.edu

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