So the best case scenario in this one would have obviously been a win. But instead, Rhody fans got pretty much the next best case. The Rhode Island Rams hung with #4 ranked Ohio State for 40 minutes tonight, coming up short at the end and falling 69-58. And most Ram fans couldn’t be prouder.
Rhody came out of the game strong and actually led for a majority of the first half, relying on strong three-point shooting from Xavier Munford, Mike Powell, and Andre Malone. (Side note: Hey! Shots are starting to fall!) The Rams held their largest lead at 22-15 following a three from Malone with 8:28 to go in the first half. Rhody also led 26-23 with 2:29 left before allowing a 7-0 run to the Buckeyes to close the frame. The Ram defense was STRONG from the get-go, and the outside shooting came alive. With the limited inside game URI has this year, it pretty much has to be alive for them to win games. But in the end, Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas proved to be too much. Thomas finished with 25 points on 9-18 shooting, and he also pulled down 10 rebounds. The Rams weakness was in the paint, where they struggled to grab defensive boards (12 offensive rebounds for OSU). Plus, it seemed that every loose ball in the paint got scooped up by Ohio State. They’re ranked where they are because they make those plays. The Buckeyes are obviously a team we’re going to be seeing in March and with good reason. But Rhode Island would not let them pick up an easy win.
For the Rams, they finally had multiple guys put together solid offensive performances. Four starters – Powell, Mundord, Malone, and Malesevic – were all in double figures, with X and his 16 points leading the way. Jordan Hare also looks good off the bench, at least on defense, picking up three blocked shots. His offense was a little “ehhh”, but in fairness, the Buckeyes were monstrous down low. All in all, Rhody should come out of this one with a huge boost of confidence. If they can build on it tomorrow and the rest of the season, it’s going to be a lot of fun for the next few months.