WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Richmond shook off a slow start and overcame a season-low 32.2 percent shooting to down shorthanded UNCW, 53-42, in women's basketball Sunday at Trask Coliseum.
The Spiders snapped a two-game losing streak to push their record to 8-6 on the season. UNCW dropped its sixth straight to free-fall to 1-9 this year.
Junior guard Christina King of Richmond led all scorers in the contest with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. She was the lone player in double figures for the Spiders, who went a frosty 19-of-59 from the field.
Junior guard Jessica Freeman paced UNCW with 12 points and sophomore playmaker Kelva Atkins had 11. Senior forward Chelsea McGowen grabbed 11 rebounds for the Seahawks, making only their third home appearance of the season.
UNCW dressed just nine players - played only six - and its third leading scorer and top rebounder, Karneshia Garrett, was sidelined with an ankle injury. Even with the short bench, Adelle Harris' pesky club held the Spiders to 15 points below their 65.8 ppg season average.
In a matchup of 2011 Postseason WNIT participants, Richmond shot 26.5 percent in the first 20 minutes and forged out to a 23-16 lead before extending the margin to as many as 14 points after the break.
A pair of free throws by UNCW freshman guard Dana Brown sliced UR's lead to 30-22 with 15:18 remaining before the Spiders dialed long distance to increase the margin back to double digits.
Twins Rachael Bilney and Samantha Bilney did the critical damage. Rachael Bilney made a three-ball at 14:48 and Samantha added a bomb at 12:05 to push the UR cushion to 14 points, 38-24.
UNCW rallied, however, behind Freeman to close the gap to seven points on three occasions and a pair of free throws by Freeman with 4:47 remaining cut the score to 45-38. But reserve Becca Wann converted both ends of a bonus situation and Samantha Bilney made a layup to dash any hopes of a Seahawk comeback.
The two teams got off to a sluggish beginning, combining for 0-for-9 from the floor in the first 2:21 of the contest. Sophomore guard Keri Soppe finally broke the ice with a triple from the left side with 17:39 left in the first half to give the Spiders a 3-0 lead.
The Seahawks mixed up zone defenses, worked the shot clock to perfection and took advantage of Richmond's cold shooting to stay close through the opening period. Trailing 10-5, McGowen scored in the paint and Atkins added a free throw and layup to tie the score at 10-all at 9:40.
King provided most of the offense in the first half for the Spiders. The junior guard from Alpharetta, Ga. , made four consecutive buckets at one point and scored 10 of UR's 23 points in the first 20 minutes.
The Spiders closed out the half by scoring eight of the final 10 points. After Atkins banked in a layup with 40 seconds left to pull the Seahawks within 20-16, Rachael Bilney drained a three-pointer from the right wing with 26 ticks on the clock to give UR a 23-16 advantage at intermission.
The Seahawks return to the hardwood Thursday with an 11:30 a.m. tip-off against visiting North Carolina A&T at Trask Coliseum. The Spiders entertain Navy on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Robins Center.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks were playing their first game back after the holiday break and a Dec. 20 matchup at Northern Kentucky...Richmond now leads the series, 30-10, since the initial contest on Jan. 12, 1985...Richmond won the rebounding battle, 43-40...Three players - Atkins, Brown and Freeman - played all 40 minutes for the Seahawks...UNCW had 15 turnovers and UR finished with 13 miscues...Richmond attempted 13 more three-pointers than UNCW...The Seahawks are now 1-2 at home under Harris...Wann grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench for UR...Freeman had six helpers and three steals to go along with her 12 points and seven rebounds...UR won for the 13th time in 18 tries at Trask Coliseum...The game kicked off a three-game homestand for the Seahawks ... Freeman matched her career high in assists with six, set on two previous occasions ... Junior Brittany Gamby equalled her career high with nine points, set against High Point on Nov. 10, 2010.