What’s good URI? I hope family holidays were fun filled with prodding questions from parents, closet racism from grandparents and the token cousin who can’t tell when to stop drinking.
Since being home on break URI has had four games, two home and two away. So far they have gained three victories out of the four contests and are looking to add more before we all return to URI for the spring. Here is a breakdown of the four games you may have missed.
Rhode Island 62 – New Hampshire 45
This is exactly what Rhody (7-5) needed after finals week and coming off a three game losing skid. Given that UNH (2-9) isn’t exactly a basketball powerhouse, there are still some solid improvements we can take from the home win. The Rams came out strong and didn’t look back, exploding with a 25-5 lead with 6:20 left in the half. Rhode Island improved their free throw percentage, shooting 14-21 (.667). In their last home game against Providence College, URI only shot 50 percent at the line. Gilvydas Biruta was the clear leader in the URI offense, recording a double double with a season high 17 points and 11 rebounds. Hopes were high that momentum from this win would carry into our next home game but unfortunately it wasn’t in the cards.
Southern Mississippi 77 – Rhode Island 62
Southern Miss (12-2) came into the Ryan Center looking to improve on a two game win streak, and succeeded. With 4 players contributing point totals in the double digits (14, 14, 13, 11) Southern Miss took the game with solid performances from all their starters. Matthews and Munford each put up 17 for the Rams (7-6) along with 10 points off the bench from Buchanan. However, no other players scored more than five. The other major factor was rebounding which hasn’t been a problem for URI so far this season. Southern Miss out rebounded Rhody 12-37 vs our 6-22. Fortunately this would turn out to only be a hiccup in the season for the Rams.
Rhode Island 75 – Brown 66
For the sake of everyone’s time I won’t dwell on this game too much. Long story short URI (8-6) should stick to basketball and Brown (6-6) should stick to academics. The Rams went into the half up 43-28 and didn’t look back. Besides the first road victory the big thing to take from this game is that the Rams shot a great 19-22 (.864) at the foul line. Hopefully starting the New Year off with a road win could set the tone for LSU and conference play, and it sure did.
Rhode Island 74 – LSU 70
The Rams (9-6) and the Tigers (9-3) fought back and forth to the very end and the Rams came out on top! For a full game breakdown check out the URI vs LSU recap but here is what you need to know to talk about it (and not sound like a moron). The “University of LSU” as some are starting to call it, came into this contest on a 5 game win streak looking to extend it to six at home before conference play. URI went to Baton Rouge looking to build off their first road win and, like LSU, gain momentum going into A-10 play. Munford, Matthews and Biruta all scored in the double digits for the Rams (17, 21, 19) respectively, with Biruta recording a double double 19 points and 14 rebounds. LSU gained solid production from their starters – Mickey scored 21 points – but rebounding was once again a huge factor in the Rhody win. The Rams edged LSU on the glass 16-46 to 11-32. Rhode Islands three-point shooting was also superior going 7-16 over LSU’s 4-14. URI fought off a late push from the Tigers with their own 8 point run putting the Rams up 67-59 and held on to that lead, securing the win.
LSU was Rhody’s hardest test since facing #1 Arizona in the early weeks of the season. Beating this Major Conference team sends a message to the rest of the A-10 that despite how young we are URI is a force to be reckoned with when we play hardworking team basketball. A win like this will give the Rams a serious boost going into the A-10, and we will need it. Our first opponent this Tuesday is St. Louis (13-2), a team that made it to the big dance last March. Let’s see if we can knock off one of the A-10’s best at our house.
For the remainder of break keep checking Rhody Rampage for daily news and analysis of all things Rhode Island sports.