“I thought our guys competed at a high level,” said David Cox following a 75-66 loss against the Davidson Wildcats Friday night. “I thought they fought.” I have to say, I agree with Coach Cox on that one.
Obviously, there’s no such thing as a moral victory, especially for a program like URI. The bar has been raised coming off back to back tournament appearances. It is expected now for the Rams to not only compete on a nightly basis in the Atlantic 10 but win on a consistent basis. While the Rams competed against a Davidson Wildcats team that in my opinion is the best team in the conference this year, there is still disappointment tied to the loss. Rhode Island’s losing streak is now five in a row. The Rams have also lost seven of their last eight. That is inexcusable and unacceptable no matter which way you paint it. There’s no way to put lipstick on this pig, Rhody has been abysmal.
Rhode Island did do as well offensively as we have seen in this rough patch. The Rams shot 7 of 19 from three in this one, their best effort from beyond the arc since a 75-72 loss against Duquesne on January 30th. In that loss URI shot one better, going 7 of 18 from three. The three point shooting was not the issue for Rhody in this one. The Rams defense was just unable to effectively quiet the best shooting team in Atlantic 10 men’s basketball. The Wildcats shot 61.1 percent from the field for the game and a scorching 69.2 percent from three. That’s the issue in this contest. While Rhode Island made important strides in this game, it’s a moral victory for a team that can’t afford them. On no planet is allowing a team to shoot almost 70 percent from three something anyone should feel good about. While it’s true the Wildcats are the prime of the conference and consistently on the top of the metaphoric mountain, the Rams can look no further than their defense on what to blame for their nine point loss.
While the Rams defense failed them in this contest, Davidson is also just that good. The worst individual shooting performance a Wildcat had in this one was Jon Axel Gudmunsson, the only Davidson player to shoot under fifty percent from three. The only issue is that guy torched you for a 20 point, 10 assist, 10 rebound triple double. Good for the second triple double ever in Ryan Center History. (Delroy James in 2011 is the first) Three other Wildcats joined Gudmunsson in double figures, including Kishawn Pritchett(13), Luka Brajkovic(12), and Dusan Kovacevic(10). “That’s a very talented team that can hurt you a number of ways offensively,” said Cox. “When we give them open shots and they bury them at such an efficient rate, you have to take in account the backdoors and things of that nature. It was just a little too much.”
For Rhode Island, it was good to see Tyrese Martin confident in his shooting stroke and offensive game in this one. Martin finished with 16 points on 3-7 shooting, getting to the free throw line 10 times and hitting eight of them. Martin shot fifty percent from three and also added six rebounds to the stat sheet. Fatts Russell, Cyril Langevine, and Jeff Dowtin all were solid contributors for Rhode Island as well, all finishing with 12 points. Langevine added 13 rebounds as well, eight of which were on the offensive glass, to finish with a double double.
“I told the guys at the end, we don’t accept moral victories, at all,” said Cox. “However, I let them know I was really proud of their fight effort throughout the game for an entire forty minutes. That bodes well for us moving forward.”
The Rams now look forward to hosting the George Washington Colonials on Tuesday night.