The Pioneers traveled to Miami, FL to open up conference play against the Sharks of Miami Dade College.
In the opening minutes of action the Pioneers forced Miami Dade to two back to back turnovers before the Sharks could convert a shot. The River rallied in the first quarter to try and get a jump, but forced shots gave MDC what they needed to transition and convert. Then a series of IRSC defensive fouls sent MDC to the foul line early where they went 6-7 from the line giving them the lead after the first quarter 19-13.
The second quarter was sparked by a three point shot by freshman Joseline Ramos to get the Pioneers up and running, but MDC had an answer for every bucket the River would make. Drawhorn took over the quarter contributing a consecutive eight points to keep the Pioneers within reach of the Sharks. The second quarter was an even match-up for MDC and IRSC as they each scored sixteen a piece to keep the six point defict the same after 2 quarters with a score of 35-29 at the half.
The Pioneers down only six to the Sharks at halftime started off the third quarter with a stronger offensive mentality. The River now attacking the rim were converting easy bucket but the Sharks again were answering this time hitting from behnd the arc. IRSC did not let up and MDC began to foul in the paint sending the Pioneers to the line, but poor free-throw shooting plagued the River who went 6-12 from the charity stripe when it mattered most. The poor shooting lead to an additional four point defict to bring the third quarter score to 55-45 Dade.
Final quarter of regualtion found the River running their transition game and finding success scoring twenty-one points. However, MDC was not going to let the River out run them as they answered back. A tired River could not get back on defense in time to stop the Sharks twenty-six point run that ultimately decided the game. The Pioneers fell to the Sharks with a final score of 81-66.
"At this point of the season game plans have to be followed and players must be ready to leave it all on the floor", said Head Coach Diana Couch. "We are young and are still trying to figure out what conference play means. We told our team this is what they worked for and what they were recruited to do, compete during conference time. We had a couple great performances by individuals that we are happy about, but it takes the team to win games like this during conference. Miami has a solid running game that we were not prepared to stop tonight. If anything, I hope we learned some valuable lessons from this first game and carry them over through the rest of conference play."
The Pioneers were led in scoring by sophomore transfer Edley Drawhorn with 23 points and 15 rebounds, freshman guard Joseline Ramos with 16 points and freshman guard Kiara Cadore with 10 points, while returning sophomore Cyann Fox dished out 12 assists to her teammates. IRSC drop to a 5-11 overall record and 0-1 for the start of conference action.
The River will return to action on Tuesday January 16th at 5:00 p.m. when they face rival Palm Beach State in double-header action with the men's team following at 7:00 p.m.