A big third quarter led the University of Richmond women’s basketball team to its first win of the season over visiting University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 57-55, Wednesday night.
Graduate student guard Daijia Ruffin led the way with 17 points on 4-5 shooting off of the bench. Junior forward Jaide Hinds-Clarke had 15 points of her own along with 15 rebounds. Preseason All-Conference selection and leading scorer Alex Parson, a sophomore, had 12 points on 4-17 shooting. The Spiders won despite shooting just 27.5 percent from the field.
UMES held the Spiders to just eight points in the first quarter, and star guard Parson was stifled by the Hawks’ Ra’Jean Martin, who played physical defense on the perimeter. All of Richmond’s first-quarter points were scored in the paint, and the Spiders could not capitalize on the Hawks’ numerous turnovers.
The Spiders picked up the pace in the second quarter and cut the UMES lead to 29-25 by halftime. Hinds-Clarke started to dominate the offensive glass, and Ruffin continued to use her strength and footwork to overmatch her defender. Richmond shot just 25 percent from the field in the first half to UMES’ 54.5 percent.
The second half started slowly, but a block by first-year forward Emma Squires gave the Spiders a fast-break opportunity. Ruffin converted the layup while being fouled, and made the subsequent free throw to tie the game at 31. UMES was held scoreless for almost seven minutes during the third quarter. Parson’s two free throws with 0.7 seconds left gave the Spiders a seven-point advantage heading into the final quarter.
Foul calls plagued the Spiders early in the fourth quarter as Hinds-Clarke was sent to the bench after picking up her fourth personal foul. With a little over three minutes left in the game, the Hawks’ Ksenia Popovich scored to retake the lead as Richmond coach Michael Shafer pounded the hardwood in frustration.
UMES’ Bairesha Gill-Miles scored in the post to make it a four-point game with under a minute remaining, but Parson sped up the court and made a straightaway 3-pointer with 31.8 seconds left to cut the Hawk lead to one. After the Spiders intentionally fouled, Ciani Byrom made both free throws for the Hawks. With the game on the line, Hinds-Clarke secured another offensive rebound and made a putback layup as she was fouled.
Hinds-Clarke’s free throw to tie the game with 17.9 seconds remaining clanged off the rim, but Ruffin grabbed the ball and was fouled as well. She made both free throws to give the Spiders a one-point lead.
Byrom took what would have been the go-ahead shot but missed, and Ruffin grabbed the rebound. She was immediately fouled and made one of two free throws with 4.1 seconds on the clock. Byrom could not get a shot off at the buzzer, and the Spiders celebrated their first win of the season, improving to 1-3.
Shafer praised the Spiders’ second-half defense, which he said created opportunities for the Spiders to score on offense.
“I thought defensively, that was the biggest difference, and that gave us a chance to take the lead,” he said.
The Spiders will look to make it two in a row when they take on Florida Atlantic University on Sunday. Shafer, however, said he did not want the Spiders to get too comfortable.
“I want them to stay hungry, and continue to learn,” he said. “We’re constantly in a learning phase.”
Contact sports writer Noah Jacobs at email@example.com