RIVERSIDE — A slow start, too many turnovers and too much Oluchi Ezemma cost Chariho High in its girls state basketball tournament opener Wednesday night against Moses Brown.
The Quakers, runners-up in the Division I tournament, topped the Chargers, 67-54, at Bay View Academy.
Moses Brown (17-5), the No. 2 seed, will play Wheeler School, a 53-42 winner against Juanita Sanchez, in the quarterfinals at Rhode Island College on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Fifteenth-seeded Chariho (16-9) fell behind 17-2 in the first five minutes. Jess Rylander (14 points) had two 3-pointers in the early run and Tori Matson (19 points) made one.
The Chargers had five turnovers, three of them Quaker steals. In the first half, the Chargers had 12 turnovers and the Quakers had six steals.
“You can’t do that in a playoff game against a team like that,” Chariho coach Tom Gilligan said.
Senior forward Sydney Davis, who led the Chargers with 16 points, agreed.
“We just didn’t take care of the ball,” said Davis, who led the team in rebounds (5) and assists (5). “We needed to pass better on the perimeter. We had a lot of bad turnovers and it just made it so they could have an easy fast break.”
Still, the Chargers managed to get back in the game by outscoring the Quakers 8-2 to make it 19-10 with 6:26 left in the half.
Ezemma, the Gatorade state player of the year last season as a junior, left the game at the 11:05 mark with her second foul. Even though Chariho had a good run without her in the game, it could have been even more productive if not for three more turnovers.
“We didn’t take advantage of that like we should have,” Gilligan said.
When Ezemma (22 points) returned, she scored six straight points, all on inside moves, to make it 25-10 with 4:17 left in the half.
Chariho did close the first half with four straight points and opened the second half with five more, capped by a Spencer Shiels (15 points) 3-pointer to make it 31-25.
Once again, Ezemma came to the rescue, sparking an 8-0 run that put the Quakers ahead 39-25 with 12:34 left. She scored four points and kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound.
Chariho did manage to get it under 10 points one more time on a free throw by Powers with 9:22 left that made it 43-35.
Matson completed a three-point play on a drive to the basket and a foul, and scored again inside to put Moses Brown up 48-35 with 8:03 left. The lead was never fewer than 10 points after that.
It was still a turnaround year for the Chargers, who finished 0-22 last season in Division I.
“Our team was just better as a whole,” said Powers, who is just a sophomore. “We got along with each and we know how to play together.
“Nobody really expected us to make it to the playoffs after last year’s winless season, so it was good to make it this far.”
Davis, the lone senior starter, expects big things from her teammates next season. Davis missed most of last season due to an injury.
“This year was great; I was able to play,” Davis said. “It’s fun with them. They are going to do great next year.”