Just two games after putting together arguably the best performance of the Dan Hurley era to date, the Rhode Island Rams turned in their worst performance last night, a disheartening 82-59 loss to the St. Mary’s Gaels. URI was out-hustled, out-coached, and out-played in this one as they were handed their most lopsided loss of the season. The game was put away fairly early on in the second half after the Rams cut a 9-point halftime deficit to just four (40-36). From there, St. Mary’s went on a 14-2 run to push the lead to 16 and Rhody was never able to recover as they fell to 4-8 on the season. Let’s break down the horror show that was this game:
Three Things to Feel Good About
1. Xavier Munford – Munford has been the one constant for the Rams this season, and last night was no exception. X dropped 20 points on 7-16 shooting, including 3-6 from downtown. He also tallied a pair of steals in his 38 minutes of play. But the thing that stood out is the fact that Munford never gave up. He continued to hustle on both ends of the floor, playing tight D and trying to will the Rams to a win, even when the game became clearly un-winnable. In an otherwise ugly game, X was a bright spot, and the effort for 40 minutes will come in handy in games when it matters.
2. Turnover Margin – Coming off a Georgia State game in which the Rams recorded zero steals, URI tallied seven of them en route to forcing 13 turnovers on the night. On the other end of the floor, Rhody turned the ball over just nine times, including zero miscues from Mike Powell in 38 minutes of work. After struggling in the turnover department last time out, the Rams certainly improved in that area.
3. Shooting – Lost in the shuffle of an otherwise putrid game was the fact that Rhody didn’t shoot all that badly in this one. URI tallied 43.4% from the field and 37% from outside last night, raising their season averages in both categories. The Rams connected on five of their first six three-pointers to build a 21-13 lead in the first ten minutes before things started to come unraveled. But Rhody has certainly won games this year when shooting over around 40%, so from that standpoint, it wasn’t what lost the game for URI.
Three Things to Be Concerned About
1. Rebounding – What more can we say about this one? 42 rebounds for St. Mary’s to just 17 for URI, including 12 offensive rebounds to two. It was the Rams worst rebounding performance as a team in over 17 years, and it resulted in the Gaels putting up 12 second chance points to just two for the Rams. Only three Rhody players had more than one rebound, while seven members of SMC’s squad had multiple boards. There’s really not much to break down – the numbers speak for themselves. A truly horrific performance on the glass.
2. Defense – If rebounding was problem 1, defense would have to be 1a. URI allowed an uncharacteristic 82 points in this one, by far the most they have all season. St. Mary’s was able to shoot 53% from the field and 42% from three-point range against a normally tough Rhode Island defense. Included in that is a staggering 62.5 second-half shooting percentage for the Gaels. Rhody also allowed 36 points in the paint, further complicating their problems down low. And although the officiating was a little questionable, St. Mary’s attempted 23 free throws to just eight for URI. The game plan was to pound it inside against the Rams, and the Gaels took full advantage of Rhody’s weak low-post defense.
3. Bench Scoring – Another mind-blowing number: 36 bench points for the Gaels to just four for the Rams. The Gaels went deep into their bench as 12 players total saw action, including two reserves (Stephen Holt and Beau Levesque) that scored in double-figures. The Rams were down a player (Mike Aaman), but four bench points won’t cut it on most nights. The starters can’t do it all. And if the Rhody reserves couldn’t put the ball in the hoop, they could have at least played at little defense.
In the end, it was a very poor performance all around for the Rhode Island Rams. After winning two straight and four of their last six, this was a huge step back for Hurley and company. And being that this was their last game of 2012, they have a long lay-off to stew on this loss. They won’t take the court again until a week from tonight when they return to the Ryan Center to take on Brown. We’ll have much more this week as we look at URI’s chances to jump back into the win column.