The Rhode Island Rams are now 7-7 (4-3) after taking down the George Mason Patriots (6-6, 2-4). Coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss at UMass on Wednesday night, URI won today 80-60. Fatts Russell, Antwan Walker, and Mahkel Mitchell led the Rams, all of whom finished with double-digit points. This game was a tale of two halves, as Rhode Island won the second-half battle 46-26 after being tied at 34 at halftime.
Cumberland native Tyler Kolek made his first appearance in his home state as the freshman played 38 out of 40 minutes for the Patriots. The freshman was named Atlantic 10 rookie of the week on December 28 after averaging 12.7 points, 3.3 3pt FG, 2.7 assists and
2.3 steals over three games. Kolek came into this one averaging 10.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and shooting 42.3/35.1/75%.
He impressed early today, scoring 8 points, including 2-3 from beyond the arc. However, he struggled in the second half, shooting 1-7 from deep, adding five more points to his total. Either way, it is excellent for the state of Rhode Island to be represented on the collegiate level. The Rams also faced Rhode Islanders Preston Santos and Dyondre Dominguez against UMass.
One of the significant differences between the two halves was Rhode Island’s responsibility with the basketball. In the first half, Rhody had nine turnovers leading to 15 points for George Mason. URI’s carelessness with the ball led to a 13-4 deficit to start the game. Turnovers aren’t a new issue; in fact, WPRI 12’s Morey Hershgordon pointed out that it has been a trend after Wednesday’s loss.
#URI has turned the ball over 98 times in the last 5 games.
Playing with fire. Burned them tonight. It must change.
— Morey Hershgordon (@MHershgordon) January 14, 2021
However, the Rams turned it around with only three turnovers in the second half. This efficiency led to only three points off of turnovers for George Mason.
“In the first half, we were a little antsy, turned the ball over at a high rate,” said Fatts Russell. “We came in the second half; we talked about it, and our guards were tighter with the ball and made sure decisions. That helped us get the victory.”
Fatts contributed the progress they made today to the roster’s increased chemistry and familiarity with each other.
“It’s a lot of new guys,” he said. “We didn’t really know each other at first… I feel like it’s coming together now. We’re getting a feel for each other, I feel like these guys are getting a feel for Coach Cox, and it’s time to start getting this thing rolling.”
It was another excellent game for Mahkel Mitchell after scoring a career-high 23 points and grabbing six rebounds against Massachusetts. Today he had a double-double, finishing with 14 points and ten rebounds.
Coach Cox was impressed with Mitchell, “the game just needed to slow down for him.” After complimenting the big man’s offensive skill set, Coach Cox added, “he just needed to get a lot more comfortable with this team, with my offensive philosophy, with the plays.”
Antwan Walker also stepped up and played the center position after Mitchell found himself in foul trouble in the second. It was important for Cox to be able to rely on him with Mahki Mitchell out with an injury and Jermaine Harris inactive due to “coach’s decision.”
“He looked really comfortable. We’ve got to find him some more opportunities down there on the low block because he’s effective,” Cox said.
What’s on Tap?
Next up, the Rams will travel to Duquesne for a matchup at 6:00 on Wednesday, January 20th. The Dukes are 3-5 (2-4) and led by senior Marcus Weathers. Weathers is 6’5” forward, averaging 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
The Rams play at the Ryan Center again on Sunday, January 24th, against George Washington (3-8, 2-2).
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