The Rhode Island Rams hung with the George Mason Patriots for 40 minutes but couldn’t come away with a victory this evening as they fell 61-54 at the Patriot Center. In what was an outstanding game, the teams were neck-and-neck all the way to the final minutes, but Rhody couldn’t make the plays down the stretch to pick up the win. URI now falls to 6-3 on the season, and 0-3 on the road.
The Rams and Patriots engaged in an absolute battle in the first half, with things almost looking like street ball at times. Despite that, Rhody couldn’t grab a lead through the first 20 minutes, even though they were never down by more than six points. Rhode Island was able to whittle the lead down to just two when the buzzer sounded, hanging close at 33-31 entering the locker room.
The second half matched the excitement of the first half, with the Rams tying the score early on thanks to a pair of Gilvydas Biruta free throws. From there, URI had five chances to take the lead in a four minute, 10 second span, but they couldn’t convert. It was starting to feel like a game where Rhody would get close, but never be able to take the lead. That wasn’t the case though, as an E.C. Matthews steal and layup gave the Rams their first lead at 50-48 with 6:55 to play. Matthews tied it again at 54-54 thanks to a free throw with 2:26 left in the game, but Rhode Island couldn’t convert from there on out.
A missed rebound, a layup from Biggie Minnis that rolled off the rim and out, and another missed rebound off a free-throw and it spelled the end for the Rams down the stretch as they fell to the Patriots in this non-conference match-up. Rhody also went 1-2 from the line twice in the final three and a half minutes, and a combination of missed opportunities and missed shots doomed Rhode Island.
Rhody struggled with foul trouble all night as well, especially with their big men. Ifeanyi Onyekaba fouled out with 5:46 to play, and both Gilvydas Biruta and Hassan Martin had difficulty staying on the floor. The officiating was a bit… uh, “questionable” to say the least, but URI certainly had their chances towards the end of the game. They just couldn’t finish.
Xavier Munford led the way for Rhode Island, scoring 13 points but shot just 5-18 from the field. Biruta added 12 to round out the double-figure scorers for the Rams. Sherrod Wright led all scorers with 16 points for GMU, while Marko Gujanicic chipped in with 13.
This game was billed as “evenly matched”, and the two teams certainly lived up to it. But it was a frustrating one for URI as they failed to pull out their first road win. Still, the Rams played well and there are a lot of good things to take away from this one. We’ll have a much more detailed breakdown coming up tomorrow.