CANCUN, MEXICO-- Richmond used a dominant second-half effort to down Minnesota, 58-46 in the opening game of the Cancun Challenge.
"I am really proud of the entire team, said head coach Michael Shafer. "We beat a very good Minnesota team who had been averaging over 80 points a game. I thought Rachael did a great job of containing their best scorer and Ryann did a good job on their post players. We responded from a rough New England trip by coming down to Cancun with numerous distractions and we answered the call. I am very proud of our team. We now have to shift our focus immediately to a very good Witchita State team tomorrow."
With the win, Richmond snapped a three-game losing streak as it improved to 2-3 on the season. Richmond handed Minnesota its first of the season (4-1).
The Spiders started the second half on fire, outscoring the Gophers 11-4 to take a 33-30 lead with 15 minutes to go. Okoro was outstanding inside, muscling her way to two consecutive and-one opportunities that proved to be the turning point in the game.
At the under-12 media, Richmond was 5-for-11 from the field, while Minnesota was 3-for-13. That trend continued, as Richmond ended the second frame shooting 11-for-21 (50%), while the Gophers went 8-of-30 (27 percent).
Richmond's swarming defense held the potent Minnesota offense (81.0 ppg) to a season-low 46 points. Thursday's win was Richmond's first over its never-seen-before opponent.
Genevieve Okoro posted a memorable first half, out-jumping the bigger Gopher posts for 10 of Richmond's 25 rebounds. Okoro and Ryann Dannelly recorded six points in the first frame to lead Richmond.
Okoro ended her career-day with a team-high 12 points and corralled a career-high 17 rebounds. Dannelly followed with a career-high 10 points, while Kristina King also had 10 points, going 8-of-9 from the line. Freshman Lauren Tolson added a personal-best nine points, while Rachael Bilney and Becca Wann had four assists apiece.
Richmond outrebounded Minnesota, 43-34, and dished 14 assists while grabbing eight steals.
The Spiders continue Cancun Challenge play with Wichita State tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET. Links to in-game coverage can be found on RichmondSpiders.com.
NOTES: Okoro posted her third double-double in the first four games with 12 points, 17 rebounds. Okoro's 17 rebounds were the most by a Spider since Kate Flavin had 22 rebounds in 2002....Okoro has corralled double-digit rebounds in every game this season, and leads the Spiders with 11.8 rpg this season...Thursday marked Okoro's 15th career double-double... Richmond overcame its first halftime deficit of the season...The win snapped Richmond's three-game losing skid...Richmond won its first neutral-site game since Dec. 30, 2011 at the Lehigh Christmas Classic...The Spiders won their first game over Thanksgiving holiday since beating Hofstra, 42-41, Nov. 29, 2009.