The improvement is coming. But unfortunately for the Rhode Island Rams, the wins are not. Rhody dropped their fourth Atlantic 10 game last night in a 61-57 loss to the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in Philly. URI actually held a slim lead at halftime, but a tough second half spelled defeat as the Rams dropped to 10-10 on the season. Let’s face it, the A-10 is no picnic this season. But the Rams are showing signs of breaking through very soon. Here’s why.
For starters, Rhody controlled the glass against a solid rebounding team last night. Rhode Island held a 40-30 advantage on the boards, which kept them in the game until the very end. URI’s perimeter defense was also tough as they held the Hawks to just 14 percent (2-14) from beyond the arc. And it’s easy to jump on this, but the Rams committed 28 fouls on the night to just 15 for Saint Joe’s. There’s not much you can say about that one other than it’s… an “anomaly”. To put it nicely.
If there was one Achilles’ heel for URI last night – besides the officiating – it was their ability to convert turnovers into points. The turnover battle was pretty even (14 for Rhody, 13 for SJU), but the Hawks were able to net 17 points off turnovers to Rhode Island’s nine. The Rams were also without Biggie Minnis who was dealing with a hip injury, so they may have been in trouble from the start. The Texas Tech transfer recently lost his starting job, but there’s no denying his impact, especially on defense. T.J. Buchanan, Xavier Munford, and E.C. Matthews did a decent job of picking up the slack, but depth always trumps no depth.
Things aren’t going to get any easier for URI, but at least they’ll be back in Kingston this weekend. The Rams will welcome the Dayton Flyers to the Ryan Center this Saturday and the teams will try to add another chapter to a pretty exciting rivalry. Game time is slated for 4:00 p.m.