The song remains the same for the Rhode Island Rams. Rhody held their first halftime lead in nearly a month, but they failed to hit shots or get stops down the stretch in a tough 57-54 loss to the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. URI was up 38-28 with 14:27 to play in the game, but St. Joe’s ran off nine straight points to close the gap, and converted big plays when it counted. Rhody’s losing streak now moves to six games as they sit at 11-16 (2-10) on the season.
Rhode Island came out strong in a Pinked Out Ryan Center, hitting their first two threes to go on top 6-2. A 7-0 Hawks run gave them the lead, and it was back and forth basketball for much of the half. The Rams finished strong, however, and an 11-4 run closed out the first frame with URI on top 33-25.
The halftime lead wouldn’t hold up, however. Rhody stretched things to 10, but the Hawks exploded for nine points in less than four minutes to get right back in it. It was a 48-48 ballgame with 5:38 to play, and that’s about when things went south. St. Joe’s rattled off five straight points, but Gilvydas Biruta tried to bring the Rams back into it. He scored four unanswered points to bring his team to within one, but that would be as close as URI would get. Halil Kanacevic moved the Hawks lead back to three with an uncontested layup, and Rhode Island couldn’t get off a decent shot in the final 30 seconds as they took yet another close home loss.
Not surprisingly, E.C. Matthews led the way for URI once again. The freshman dropped 17 points, grabbed four boards, and dished out five assists to just one turnover. Yes, he couldn’t get it done on the final play, but repeat the mantra: “He’s only a freshman, he’s only a freshman, he’s only a freshman.” Those tough shots will come, but fans (us included) might be expecting a little too much from E.C. too soon. Give him time.
Until that day comes, losses like this one will continue to sting. Rebuilding is never easy, but it’s progressing. We’ll dig deeper into this one coming up tomorrow.