In what would have been a nice win for several reasons, the Rhode Island Rams fell just short last night in Kingston, dropping a 66-65 decision to the George Washington Colonials. A win would have placed the Rams in a better position to get to the Atlantic 10 Tournament, as well as helped them build a winning streak following their victory over St. Louis last weekend. Instead, Rhody drops to 1-3 in the conference following the heartbreaking loss. The decided factor in this one was rebounding; GW held a 34-25 edge on the boards, leading to a 16-7 advantage in second-chance points and a 32-20 points in the paint margin. Jordan Hare and Ryan Brooks, URI’s two centers, combined for just three rebounds in 40 minutes of play. What else can we take away from this one? Here are our thoughts:
Three Things to Feel Good About
1. Shooting – While making shots hasn’t been a strong suit for the Rams this season, the turnaround in that department over the last two games has been tremendous. Coming off a 55.1 percent shooting night at St. Louis, Rhody shot 50.0 percent last night as they were able to put together back-to-back 50+ percent shooting nights for the first time this season. URI’s shooting percentage for the year also eclipsed the 40 percent mark for the first time. The Rams are now averaging 40.4 percent from the field as a team. It understandably took a while for Rhody to find their offensive rhythm as there are a lot of guys on this squad that have never played together, but if this is any indication as to how Hurley’s squad will shoot from here on out, they’ll be able to hang with almost every team in the conference.
2. The Three Ms – It took more than a few games, but Rhody’s three big scorers (Xavier Munford, Nikola Malesevic, and Andre Malone) finally put together three big performances on the same night. Munford led the way once again as he dropped 20 points on 6-15 shooting. X shot 2-4 from three, a perfect 6-6 from the line, and also added four rebounds and five assists to his stat sheet. Munford continues to lead the A-10 in scoring with 17.9 points per game on the season. Malesevic poured in 16 points of his own to go along with six rebounds and a couple of assists. He shot 5-9 from the floor, 2-4 from three, and 4-6 from the charity stripe. Malone rounded out the trio of double-figure scorers with 14 points on 7-11 shooting, including an amazing 7-7 from two point range (and 0-4 from three). ‘Dre also chipped in three boards (two of them on the offensive end) and three steals.
3. T.J. Buchanan – Another game, another solid spark off the bench for the sophomore guard, and Buchanan looks to be fully recovered from a foot injury that was hampering him earlier in the season. T.J. only had five points, but they were all big. His first two came on a fast-break dunk to give Rhody a 9-7 lead, and the last three came in the second half to draw the Rams within one at 45-44. Buchanan also played his usual brand of stellar defense, and added three rebounds, an assist, and a steal into the mix.
Three Things to Be Concerned About
1. Defense – The normally tough Rhody D played with high energy once again, but unfortunately it didn’t show up on the stat sheet. The Rams allowed GW to shoot 51 percent from the floor in this one, but did hold them to just 33.3 percent from three. What allowed the Colonials to score at such a high percentage was their ability to get into the paint. Nearly half of George Washington’s points came inside, finding holes when URI played a zone and using screens when they were in a man. The interior defenders for the Rams allowed big man Isaiah Armwood to score a team-high 13 points on 6-9 shooting (66.7 percent).
2. Free-Throw Shooting – While GW was much, much worse (50 percent), URI struggled from the line once again, posting just a 61.1 free throw percentage. The glaring hole for the Rams was Hare’s dismal 0-4 performance at the stripe. As the final buzzer, Dan Hurley was incensed that a foul wasn’t called that would have sent Jordan Hare to the line, but think about it. Did he really want him there?
3. Mike Powell – The sophomore point guard didn’t play a great game by his standards, posting just seven points and three assists to go along with a game high SIX turnovers. And most of this was done with a freshman defending him. MP usually sees the floor well, but with a 3:6 assist-to-turnover ratio, he can’t be too pleased with his performance.
No time to dwell on this one as the Rams get back into action against one of the weaker teams in the A-10 this weekend. Rhody will head to Fordham to take on the other Rams on Saturday, and we’ll start previewing that one tomorrow.