The Rhode Island Rams hung in there. Again. But once again, they couldn’t close out a win over the Massachusetts Minutemen. Rhody dropped a(nother) heartbreaking decision to UMass tonight in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament by the score of 65-61. The loss officially ends URI’s 2013-14 season with a 14-18 record, including a 5-11 mark in conference play.
The Rams came out of the gate incredibly strong tonight. They hung with the Minutemen every step of the way, and it was a 27-26 URI lead with 4:33 to play in the frame. Then, Xavier Munford happened. The senior absolutely caught fire at the end of the half as he keyed a 10-1 run to put Rhody up ten. X scored seven of Rhode Island’s 10 points in the stretch as the Rams took a 37-29 lead into the locker room.
The second half re-ignited the back and forth battle, but Rhody maintained their advantage as they found themselves up 55-46 with 9:50 to play. URI was in the driver’s seat… until things got incredibly sloppy. The Rams shot 0 for 11 from the field and two for nine from the free throw line over the next nine-plus minutes as things got out of hand in a hurry. They also committed four turnovers as the game got quite ugly. Meanwhile, the Minutemen climbed back into the game as URI never recovered. A pair of T.J. Buchanan free throws and a Xavier Munford layup in the final 35 seconds weren’t enough as UMass picked up their third win of the season over the Rams.
The turning point in the game came with 7:56 to play and Rhode Island up 55-52. The score stayed that way for 4:01 (weird, right?) as it was just a brutal stretch of basketball on both sides. The Rams had eight chances to extend their lead in that span, but couldn’t muster even a single point in any of them. It was tough to watch, to say the least.
And sadly, that’s how the season comes to a close. It was an exciting, if sometimes ugly game, but URI couldn’t pick up the key plays when they needed them. Might be the story of the season; it’s certainly the story of the three games vs UMass. We’ll have a full recap coming up tomorrow.