Day 4 Tour of Italy
VICENZA, Italy – It wasn’t yet Shakespeare, but the play did show plenty of promise.
After a stop in Verona to see the homes of the fabled Romeo and Juliet, the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team traveled to Vicenza and drew positive reviews after a 74-37 victory over AS Vicenza on Thursday night in the NCAA Vicenza Tour exhibition.
Senior Antiesha Brown had nine points and three steals during a 15-2 run that broke a 9-9 first-quarter tie to put the Lobos in control the rest of the way.
For every point AS Vicenza scored, UNM scored two the rest of the way.
Brown was honored as the game’s Most Valuable Player with 16 points and six steals (according to UNM statistics). Alexa Chavez scored 11 points and had eight rebounds, Khadijah Shumpert had nine points and nine rebounds, all in the first half, and Josie Greenwood scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter.
The game used International rules, with four 10-minute quarters and a 24-second shot clock. The Lobos came out showing the rust of not having touched a basketball since leaving Albuquerque on Monday, but took advantage of their more aggressive post players and Brown’s defense to put an early to any suspense of the outcome.
“I was waiting for this since we got off the plane,” Brown said of her desire to play an actual game. “Italy is nice, but I’m a competitor and I was ready to compete as soon as we touched the ground.
“I think we played fairly well; we have a lot of things we have to work on.”
Coach Yvonne Sanchez agreed with Brown but came away pleased with the dress rehearsal, particularly her captains – Brown and Bryce Owens
“I love the way our kids played; we have to clean up some things but we haven’t practiced in three or four days,” she said. “I love the way the freshmen played, but I was really impressed with Bryce and Tiesh. They really got the ball rolling. Once Ebony (Walker) is healed, she’ll be part of that captain thing.”
The Lobos got off to a slow start as they turned the ball over several times themselves in the first quarter. When they began to take better care of the ball, they opened up their lead.
“With all the touring we’ve done, there were some jitters,” Sanchez said. “But they wanted to get out and play today. They were excited.”
Sanchez added that she was encouraged by the play of the newcomers.
“All of them did a nice job; they all got out there and played. I think all of them scored. They all got out there and did some things.”
The team is scheduled to play the Adriatic Sea Sirens in Pesaro on Saturday at 6 p.m. (10 a.m. Mountain Time), and Sanchez wants to see the same intensity with a cleaner performance on the court.
“We have to keep getting better,” she said. “We have to clean up some of the turnovers that we had, play together, pick it up defensively – although I thought we did a nice job with it (tonight) – and just go out and have some fun.”
The 8:30 p.m. game Thursday was just part of a long day that started with the team leaving Como at 9 a.m. and going on a 2 ½-hour bus ride to Verona. The team took a guided tour of the city, which featured an “arena” – it resembled the Roman Colosseum, but the guides said there is only one Colosseum and the others are “arenas.”
The guides then took the team to the actual balcony to which William Shakespeare referred to as Juliet’s (or “Giulietta” in Italian) in his play, “Romeo and Juliet.”
Several members seized the opportunity to become part of a tradition in the viewing of Juliet’s balcony. A statue of Juliet appears in the small courtyard that people have to enter to look up at Juliet’s balcony. One of the guides told the team that the folklore of the statue suggests that whoever touches the statue’s right breast will receive good luck in romance. A single person will find true love and a person already in a relationship will find deeper love.
The team then had a bit of free time before hoping back on the bus and heading to Vicenza for the exhibition game.
Upon the game’s conclusion, the team then just about sprinted out of the locker room to catch the bus for another hour-long journey to the docks to catch speed boats that would take its members to Venice.
The views of the houses on either side of the rivers, again were awesome and worth staying up until almost 1 a.m. to get to the hotel.
At least, everyone slept better with a 1-0 record.
“It’s fun to be out here,” Sanchez reiterated. “Our kids are getting treated so well.”