Philadelphia, PA - As expected, the Hokies made short work of Rhode Island in the first round of the A-10 Women's Tournament, downing the Rams 68-37.
Tech was led by freshman center Christina Strother, who scored 20 points on 9-12 shooting. Strother logged major minutes in order to give a break to starters Kim Seaver and Nicole Jones, who were resting for later rounds of the tournament. Seaver and Jones only played 19 and 21 minutes, respectively, allowing Strother to step it up against the smaller Ram players.
"I knew coming in that we were going to try to rest the legs of our starting post players, so I was going to have to step up my game," Strother said. "(Coach) Bonnie (Henrickson) talked to me at half time and told me what she expected, and I went out there and did what I had to do."
The only other Hokie in double figures was Jones, who scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting. Other statistical leaders for Tech were Sarah Hicks with 9 rebounds, Emily Lipton with 6 assists, and Amy Wetzel with 5 steals.
"She (Wetzel) did a good job early, getting in the passing lanes and disrupting their offense," Coach Henrickson said. "We looked at this game as a practice day, and we tried to spread the minutes around like we do in practice. We really pretty much got what we'd hoped for as far as managing minutes and getting some confidence for our reserves."
Coach Henrickson was not disrespecting the Rams, but instead was referring to the fact there was no way Rhode Island could hope to compete against the Hokies. The Rams only have 6 players, 2 or 3 of whom aren't even on scholarship (reports have differed as to the number that are walk-ons). Rhode Island has had 6 players leave the program this year, and 20 players have left in the last two seasons.
Lipton logged 27 minutes, and the Hokies are 6-0 since she has returned from her injury, a stress fracture. "It's much better, but it's not 100%," she said. "When I'm playing, I try not to think about it, even if it's bothering me."
Tech now stands at 19-9 on the season, having won six games in a row. "I think towards the end of the year," Lipton said, "everyone has stepped their game up a little bit and started to play well together."
For the game, the Hokies shot 30-55 (55%) from the field and 7-12 (58%) from the line. Tech took only 6 three-pointers and made just one, a late bucket by freshman Katrina Williams. The Hokies out rebounded Rhode Island 39-38 and led 37-16 at the half. All Tech players except Missy Lemons scored.
Up next for Tech is UMass in a second-round game at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. Tech beat the Minutewomen in Cassell Coliseum earlier this year, 66-45, but since then, UMass is much improved and the Hokies have lost star Tere Williams to injury.
"We'll have to come ready to play, and we'll have to come hard," Lipton said. "We all have to step it up even more."