The 2013-14 Rhode Island Rams basketball season has been a jumbled combination of steps forward and steps back. Chalk yesterday up to a step forward. Yes, despite the fact that Rhody suffered a 73-68 home loss to the UMass Minutemen, there were certainly some bright spots to take away. Sure, it’s always tough to be positive after a loss, especially one that drops URI to 2-7 in the A-10. But Massachusetts is clearly a better team than the Rams are right now. So giving them a scare has to be a least a little encouraging. Let’s break it down.
First and foremost, let’s talk about E.C. Matthews. The freshman is really starting to roll as he picked up his second-straight and fourth Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award overall this afternoon. And oh by the way, he dropped a career-high 24 points on 7-15 shooting against the Minutemen yesterday. UMass couldn’t stop E.C. – they rotated different looks, from Chaz Williams to Raphiael Putney, but no one played him particularly well. If you’re looking towards the future, this is it. He’s not even through his first season yet, but Matthews is already a household name within the conference.
However, depth issues were eventually the downfall for the Rams yesterday. From their limited front court to their shortage of players in general, the Minutemen took full advantage. UMass controlled the glass to the tune of a 36-27 advantage while also holding a 43-28 edge in points in the paint. Gilvydas Biruta, Hassan Martin, and Ifeanyi Onyekaba all played well, but all three were also hampered by foul trouble. Massachusetts also used their speed to their advantage, racking up 19 fast break points to URI’s four. If their goal was to run Rhode Island ragged, they succeeded. Rhody clearly ran out of gas at the end, and it resulted in their third-straight loss.
Now, it’s back on the road. The Rams will head to Ohio for a rematch with the Dayton Flyers Wednesday evening. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.