The Rhode Island Rams now have 13 losses on the season, but you would be hard pressed to find an opposing coach who said they picked up an easy win. Rhody gave VCU everything they possibly could, but came up short tonight in a 70-64 loss at the Ryan Center. Every time it looked like Virginia Commonwealth was going to pull away, the Running Rams battled back, causing a little havoc of their own. URI’s lack of depth caught up with them, however, despite the fact that they were able to play most of the game at their pace. Rhody brought a ton of energy, intensity and effort, but VCU was just too fast and too deep team for the hometown Rams. URI now drops to 6-13 on the season and 1-5 in the Atlantic 10.
The first half saw much of the same back and forth that we had become accustomed to over the previous three games, and VCU was up 29-28 at the half. Virginia Commonwealth opened up the second half with a 9-2 run and looked to be pulling away before Rhody closed the gap with a 5-0 run of their own. When VCU went up 38-30, URI put together another 5-0 run to claw right back. The road Rams pushed the lead to six once again at 42-36, but Rhody once again rallied to cut it to two. And when Virginia Commonwealth opened up their biggest lead at 62-47 with 4:00 remaining, URI cranked out a 10-0 run to make it a five point game with 2:02 to play. VCU never trailed in the second half, but they never exactly felt comfortable either. After a pair of Virginia Commonwealth layups stretched their lead to nine, URI gave one last battle, but ran out of time as VCU made the free throws they needed to make down the stretch to seal the win.
Xavier Munford once again led Rhody with 17 points on 6-15 shooting, and 2-6 from three. Andre Malone chipped in with 11, and T.J. Buchanan continued his stellar play with 11 off the bench. Jordan Hare had himself a game, going 5-5 from the floor en route to 10 points, rounding out the double-figure scorers. Hare added five rebounds (three offensive) and three blocks to the stat sheet as well. Treveon Graham starred for VCU, pouring in a game-high 19 points. Juvonte Reddic posted a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Darius Theus added 11. URI got killed on the boards once again, with Virginia Commonwealth holding a 35-26 edge on the glass. Rhody was able to win the turnover battle 19-18, which is not easy to do against VCU; it was the most turnovers Virginia Commonwealth had in a game since 2010. It led to 10 fast-break points for Rhode Island to just two for the other Rams. And while Virginia Commonwealth leads the nation with 12 steals per game on average, URI allowed just seven takeaways tonight.
The VCU game next season will be one to circle on your calendar, Rhody fans. This was a great, hard-fought contest at the Ryan Center tonight, with plenty of hustle and excitement on both sides. With URI’s added depth next year, it’s going to get even better. With the consolation that wins and losses don’t really matter too much this season, URI has to come out of this one feeling pretty good about their play. We’ll have much more on this game coming up tomorrow.