Zach Thomann, Assistant Sports Editor
The UC women’s basketball team lost to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Wednesday night 51-47. Both teams struggled from the field, but RPI had a big advantage from the free throw line, which put them on top late in the game.
From the opening tip, UC and RPI struggled to score tallying six points for each team in as many minutes played. RPI maintained full court pressure in the first quarter and UC could not score while in their half-court offense.
Head coach Michele Davis was vocal and continued to preach to her players that they need to capitalize on easy shots. Junior Ashley Mayo scored six points while RPI lead 12-10 after the first quarter.
Utica started the second quarter with a lot of pressure and forced four turnovers in three minutes. RPI Junior Shaina Iton had two offensive fouls in that three-minute span, but the Pioneers could not take advantage.
Mayo continued to be the only threat on offense in the first half as she was part of two quick scores midway through the second quarter. After keeping the game tied for most of the second, UC had three straight possessions with a turnover in the last two minutes. After shooting 7-10 from the foul line, RPI lead the Pioneers 24-20 at the half.
RPI started the third quarter on an 8-2 run, but UC quickly recovered after Junior Ashelyne Babb scored twice in a row. The pace of the game started to pick up halfway in the third quarter and the momentum shifted towards the Pioneers when Mayo scored Utica’s next six points.
With only a few seconds left in the third, Babb launched a three point shot from the top of the key and put the Pioneers up by one going into the fourth quarter. Babb and Mayo combined for 13 out of the 17 points scored in the third quarter.
After a strong start to the second half, UC could not get anything going in the fourth. RPI did not shoot well either and the Pioneers traded baskets with them for the rest of the game.
UC Junior Alaina Tripp posted up and finished with her right hand in two straight possessions, which tied the game once more.
RPI Freshman Ines Ortea had a strong fourth quarter and shot eight free throws. She drew two fouls while also making the shot and also made a free throw to make it a three-point game with 34 seconds left.
Turnovers were a theme with both teams combining for 45 in the game. No turnover was more costly than UC Sophomore Rachel Hunter’s in the lane the possession after Ortea made it a three-point game. RPI Senior Lauren Young sealed the game with two free throws to make it a two-possession game.
The difference from the free throw line was the key factor in the loss to RPI. UC was 4-7 from the line while RPI went 18-26.
Utica moves to 2-6 for the season and will face Morrisville College on the road Friday night at 6 p.m.