It seemed like the Rhode Island Rams were perpetually down eight points tonight. They had their chances to get closer, but poor execution on both ends led to a 72-62 loss to the La Salle Explorers in Philadelphia. It was a “Choose Your Own Frustration” kind of night, complete with poor offensive sets, defensive breakdowns, and (shockingly) missed free throws. Rhody now falls to 9-9 on the season and 0-3 in Atlantic 10 play.
The first two and a half minutes of this one had a very GW feel, with URI falling in an early 7-0 hole thanks to an 0-4 start from the field. But the Rams quickly righted the ship, putting up an 18-8 run over the next 10 minutes to take an 18-15 lead. Sadly, that would be the high point of tonight’s game. A 17-2 La Salle run saw the Rhode Island lead evaporate very quickly, and Dan Hurley’s squad found themselves down 37-26 at the half. The final seven minutes of the frame were… not good. Rhody had just one field goal (a Biruta layup with 59 seconds left) in the final 7:34, and that stretch might have been the decider tonight.
The Rams kept trying to fight their way back into the game in the second half, but the Explorers had an answer every single time. Rhody was within six three different times in the final 20 minutes but could get no closer as La Salle did what URI could not: got stops, made key buckets to stave off the opposition, and hit free throws. Rhode Island shot a dismal 11-21 (52 percent) from the stripe, and it’s never a good look when you miss 10 free throws and lose by 10. It could have been a lot more interesting in the final minutes had the Rams just converted on five of those 10 misses.
But they didn’t, and the frustration continues for the players, coaches, and fans.
Xavier Munford led the way for URI as he dropped 21 points on 8-17 shooting. Not only that, he also added five rebounds and a game-high eight assists with just one turnover. Rhody needed those kind of assist-to-turnover numbers considering the Biggie Minnis homecoming was quite disappointing. The sophomore point guard played just eight minutes thanks to foul trouble, and his five fouls were about the only stats he put up. Biggie was held scoreless on 0-1 shooting, and also posted zero assists to two turnovers. Gilvydas Biruta also had a solid game, scoring 16 and grabbing 11 boards for Rhode Island’s only double-double.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough. The schedule has been tough, especially away from home, but the Rams haven’t built off the big win at LSU like many hoped they would. In fact, they’re 0-3 since their biggest win of the season. We’ll have more on tonight’s loss coming up tomorrow.