The Rhode Island Rams scored their first road win of the season last night as they defeated the Brown Bears 75-66 at the Pizzitola Center. The win was a landmark one for a number of reasons, aside from being the first true road win of 2013-14. Rhody has now matched last season’s total of eight wins, as they improved to 8-6 on the season with still 17 games left on the schedule. URI is also guaranteed to finish their non-conference slate with a winning record, something they haven’t accomplished since 2010-11. There are certainly a lot more positives than negatives to take away from this one. Let’s check it out.
First, a few bits of good news (for once). First on Jarelle Reischel, who was questionable to play due to a thumb injury. He did make an appearance yesterday, and although he was limited, he was able to contribute. Reischel played just four minutes, but he got on the scoreboard thanks to a 2-2 performance at the line. He also grabbed a rebound, and the thumb didn’t seem to be a huge issue. Plus with URI’s depth problems, four minutes is better than no minutes.
The second noteworthy piece involves T.J. Buchanan. According to Dan Hurley’s post-game remarks, the junior guard has recently been named co-captain of the Rams, alongside Xavier Munford and Gilvydas Biruta. It’s a well-deserved promotion of sorts, especially since Buchanan is the poster boy for hustle and hard-nosed play. It’s clear that the coaching staff sees his efforts as an example for the rest of the team.
Now onto the game. Rhode Island certainly collapsed a bit down the stretch as the game ended up a lot closer than it should have been. But lost in that shuffle is how well the Rams played in the first 30 minutes of this one. Rhody ran out to a 20-point lead thanks to efficient offense and tenacious defense. It wasn’t the complete 40 minutes that fans were hoping for, but URI turned in one of their best performances of the season.
And it was largely thanks to the two freshman. E.C. Matthews poured in a career-high 21 points on 7-12 shooting, including 3-4 from downtown. He filled out the stat sheet with more than just points, however. The 6’5″ guard grabbed five rebounds, dished out a pair of assists, and added three steals and two blocks in his 38 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Hassan Martin posted six points, nine rebounds and six blocks in his first start of the season. He looks to be the right choice to enter the lineup; Ifeanyi Onyekaba played just three minutes and racked up four fouls in his first game coming off the bench.
With every game that goes by, the Rams seem to be coming together more and more as a team. Which is good news considering their next opponent. Rhody will round out their non-conference schedule when they take on the LSU Tigers tomorrow evening in Baton Rouge. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. EST.