“I don’t know how many games Rhode Island is going to win this year, but they’re going to be tough on every team.” – Steve Lappas during tonight’s game.
Ain’t that the truth. After being down by as many as sixteen (35-19) in the first half, the Rams battled all the way back to go up 38-37, but would never lead again as they fell 55-52 to the George Mason Patriots in Kingston. The game was tied at 44 with 7:29 left, but Rhody made just one field goal the rest of the way and a Malesevic three-pointer missed at the buzzer. When it sounded, the Rams failed to win another close contest, falling to 1-6 on the season.
Besides the incredible comeback, the story of the night was Xavier Munford. X went completely off yet again, pouring in 24 points on 8-16 shooting, including 3-7 from three-point range. He is playing like a first team all conference stud right now, and it’s going to be fun watching him for the rest of the year. It sucks that he’s already a junior. Besides Munford, Rhody did get contributions from the rest of their starters, although not necessarily from a scoring standpoint. Ryan Brooks tallied 10 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Jordan Hare blocked six more shots, and he now leads ALL freshman nationally in blocks. Mike Powell was the Rams’ second-leading scorer with 12 points, and he buried a couple of big three-pointers along the way. Nikola Malasevic had a rough game off the bench, though – scoring just three points on 0-6 shooting. It’s nice to see a scorer coming off the bench, but he couldn’t find his stroke in this one, even though he was able to create several good looks for himself.
Rhody once again struggled from the free-throw line, and that’s the understatement of the night. The Rams missed THIRTEEN free throws, and ended the night with a disgusting 50% clip from the line. In the second half alone, URI missed four free throws to either tie the game or take the lead, and those really came back to bite them. Despite being able to score from seemingly anywhere, Munford led the missed free throw parade with an ugly 5-11 night at the line, and every single missed proved costly in a close contest. Some credit needs to be given to George Mason as well, who played tremendous defense all night and had nine players score, led by Sherrod Wright with 14 points.
In the end, it’s a great feeling to know that the Rams never believe they’re out of a game, and that they’ll make every team work incredibly hard if they want to beat this Rhody squad. But it’s another tough loss to stomach in an increasingly frustrating stretch to start the season. Stick with us as we’ll have a full breakdown of this one tomorrow.