Rhode Island’s seven-game winning streak against the Dayton Flyers came to an end tonight in a 76-69 loss at UD Arena. The Rams kept things close in the first half before Dayton went on a 10-2 run to open the second half and Rhody never found their way back. The loss is URI’s fourth straight and eighth in their last 10 games as they now sit at 11-14 on the season.
It wasn’t just the slow start in the second half, however. The Rams started slow right from the opening tip as the Flyers ran out to a 12-5 lead in the first seven minutes. But Rhody was able to recover from this one thanks to some help from their bench. Jarelle Reischel and Ifeanyi Onyekaba both contributed to the run, and a pair of Hassan Martin buckets capped a 6-0 run that put Rhode Island on top 21-18. It was back and forth from there, but just when it looked like the Rams would be within two at the half, Dyshawn Pierre buried a three from near half court to give Dayton a 39-34 advantage at the break.
If you believe in momentum, the Flyers definitely used it coming out of the locker room. Building on the buzzer beater at the end of the first half, Dayton stayed hot from behind the arc as they built a 49-36 lead just 2:28 into the second frame. And despite making things a little interesting in the final minutes, the Rams were never able to regain the upper hand. Turnovers (URI committed 18 of them) and missed free throws doomed Rhode Island once again as the Flyers held a sizable advantage in both of those categories. Dayton coughed the ball up only eight times while hitting on 83 percent of their foul shots, far better than Rhody’s 71 percent.
Those are obviously two huge stats – and they shouldn’t be ignored – but the Rams played quite well otherwise. They shot 52 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc as the offense was clicking once again. …Well, when they weren’t turning it over at least.
And if you’re a big picture kind of fan, check this out: URI’s two impact freshmen both had monster games. E.C. Matthews was in beast mode once again as he poured in 22 points on 8-14 shooting, including 2-2 from outside. It was E.C.’s fourth 20+ point performance in his last five games, and he’s working his way to the top of the A-10 Freshman of the Year list… if he’s not there already.
As for Hassan Martin, he posted 14 points on 6-9 shooting while adding a career-high 13 rebounds. The big man also added two blocks to go along with his second career double-double. It’s sometimes easy to forget that both of these guys are still freshmen, and we have three more years of this ahead of us.
So the Rams are now 2-8 in the conference and in a three-way tie for last place. The season seems to be a lost cause at this point, so why not focus on what this team will look like in the future? If anything, it’ll make the final six games fun to watch. In the meantime, we’ll have more on tonight’s loss coming up tomorrow.