24 hours later and it’s still feeling pretty good for Rhody fans. The Rhode Island Rams recorded their biggest conference win of the season yesterday with a 87-78 victory over St. Bonaventure. URI bounced back from a 10-point deficit at the half to outscore the Bonnies by 19 over the final 20 minutes. The Rams were also able to come up with some clutch plays in the final minutes to close out the win, which is something they’ve struggled with as of late. All in all, there’s not a lot to be upset about today. Let’s break it down.
Not surprisingly, the Rams were carried on offense by Xavier Munford and E.C. Matthews. But it’s worth noting that it seemed like they finally gelled as a duo for the first time this season. Lately it’s been one or the other carrying the load, instead of the two stars complementing one other. Not yesterday. Both X and E.C. fed off each other, making it hard for the SBU defense to key on one player or the other. Munford finished with a game-high 32 points on 10-19 shooting, while Matthews added 24 points on 8-16 from the field. Another big key? The two guards combined to shoot 15-16 from the free throw line. If they keep this rolling into Brooklyn, who’s going to want to play URI?
As good as X and E.C. were, they didn’t do it alone. Gilvydas Biruta rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points and six rebounds. Hassan Martin added nine points, six rebounds and two blocks, giving him 64 swats on the season. That’s good enough to make him URI’s all time freshman leader in blocks for a season, passing Kenny Green’s mark of 63 in 1986-87.
Rhody also got some solid bench play from Ifeanyi Onyekaba. The Nigerian big man poured in five points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in his 23 minutes of work. Onyekaba has been playing quite well as of late, and the coaching staff has taken notice. Dan Hurley said it was Iffy’s “best game of the season; even better than Maine”.
Lastly, Biggie Minnis made a cameo in this one, his first appearance since missing eight games due to a hip injury. He’s clearly still not at 100%, but it was great to see him get some game action as he tries to work his way back. The sophomore logged just three first half minutes and did not score.
If the Rams are looking to finish the season strong, yesterday was a good start. They’ll have a chance to build on it Wednesday night when they take on UMass in Amherst. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.