No need to pinch yourself. That really happened. The Rhode Island Rams came into the Pete Maravich Assembly Center this evening and picked up their biggest win of the season – a 74-70 victory over the LSU Tigers. We’ll try to limit our cliché use, but Rhody wanted this one more. The Rams played harder, tougher, hungrier, scrappier… use whatever word you want. And after having 0 road wins just three days ago, URI has now won back-to-back games away from the Ryan Center, and they now sit at 9-6 on the season.
Rhode Island trailed by as many as six in the first half (17-11), but a 13-0 run put Rhody out in front by seven with 4:46 to play. LSU pushed back to tie things up, but another mini-run gave the Rams a 36-30 lead heading into the tunnel. The Rams shot 56 percent (57 percent from three) in the first twenty minutes, controlled the glass 21-13, and had 10 assists on 15 made field goals. The tangibles were there to match the intangibles.
The Tigers weren’t going to go down without a fight, however. Rhody took a 12-point lead early on in the second half, but LSU made several big pushes to get back into this one. They had runs of 8-0 and 10-0, the latter of which put the Tigers on top 54-51 with 9:39 to play in the game. But URI snapped off an 8-1 run over the next 1:05, with five of the points coming from E.C. Matthews. The Rams led by as many as eight with 4:14 to play, and they were able to hold off a late LSU run to pick up the win. The Tigers actually had a chance to win it with 11.8 seconds to go, but a deep three from Anthony Hickey was not close. URI hit their free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
We mentioned Munford and Matthews as the keys to this one, and they both delivered. E.C. led the way with 21 points on 6-12 shooting, including 2-3 from three-point range. He also chipped in nine rebounds and four assists in his second-straight 20+ point performance. X added 17 points and six boards of his own, although he connected on just 2-9 from downtown.
It wasn’t just a two-headed attack for Rhode Island, however. Gilvydas Biruta came up huge, dropping 19 points on 9-13 shooting and grabbing 14 rebounds for yet another double-double. He also scored URI’s first nine points of the second half, helping the Rams turn a six-point lead into a 12-point advantage. Rhody’s stars are coming into their own at the perfect time, and tonight’s big win was hopefully the first of many.
Soak this one in – it’s the biggest win for the Rhode Island Rams in quite some time. This team had it’s fair share of hiccups early on in the season, but they’re really gelling right now. Bring on the A-10.