After a very good first half, the Rhode Island Rams lost their shooting touch as they fell to the Charlotte 49ers by a score of 58-50 this afternoon. Rhody held a slim 31-30 halftime lead, but the URI shooting went cold in the second half as they only posted 19 points in the final 20 minutes. Charlotte certainly equaled the defensive intensity that we have become accustomed to seeing from the Rams, and Rhody couldn’t find the answer on offense. Rhody now drops to 5-10 on the season, and 0-2 in Atlantic 10 play.
In a tale of two halves, the Rams came out strong in this one, building a 13-5 lead thanks to a couple of early three-pointers by Andre Malone. Rhody led the entire first half, using tough defense and some gritty play down low by Mike Aaman, Ryan Brooks, and Jordan Hare to stay on top. URI was able to score several easy buckets by running Mike Powell and T.J. Buchanan off multiple screens and set them up with open cuts to the basket. But the 49ers battled back, cutting into the lead and getting it down to just one at the half. In the second frame, Charlotte cranked their already tough defense up a notch, and it made the Rams look lost on offense on more than one occasion. URI shot 0-11 from three point range in the 2nd half, but they had at least three wide open looks at key moments down the stretch. The shots just weren’t falling, and once Charlotte took the lead they never gave it back.
We knew coming into this one that rebounding would be key, and Rhody got killed on the boards to the tune of 45-25. Couple that with the poor second half shooting and it was a recipe for a loss. DeMario Mayfield played the role of URI killer for Charlotte, pouring in 17 points on 5-10 shooting off the bench. Willie Clayton was also tough, posting a double-double for the 49ers with 11 points and 13 rebounds. For the Rams, Mike Powell led the scoring with 16 points, but shot 0-4 from three-point range. Andre Malone chipped in with 13 points and 5 rebounds, and T.J. Buchanan added six points off the bench. To Charlotte’s credit, their entire game plan seemed to be “contain Xavier Munford”, and they did. X scored just eight points (all in the second half) on 3-12 shooting, 0-5 from three-point range. Somehow the Rams held the lead at halftime with Munford posting a goose egg in the points column, but Charlotte’s in-your-jersey defense held strong on him for all 40 minutes.
It was certainly a solid effort from the Rams against a very good Charlotte squad, but one that left URI still searching for their first conference win of the season. We’ll have a full breakdown of this one tomorrow, as we take a look at what Rhody will need to do in order to bust out of their two-game slump.