The Rams fell to the Richmond Spiders 69-61 in the A-10 Conference opener.  The Rams were led by Tyrese Martin, who scored 17 points and also had 12 rebounds.  Other than Martin’s production, Jacob Toppin and Jeff Dowtin were the only other Rams with more than 10 points.  Rhode Island only shot 34.8% from the field and 23.5% from three. Richmond shot well from the field, shooting for 42.4% from the field and 42.1% from three.

The Spiders are a very good team as they moved to 12-3 after this win.  But these are the teams URI wants to compete with and it seemed like they were outmatched today.  The Rams struggled on both ends of the floor and couldn’t find a big shot to fall to put them back in the game.

Fatts Russell Went Missing

Michael Derr/RICentral

The Rams normally play through Jeff Dowtin and Fatts Russell.  Russell has been averaging 20.3 points this season and only scored three in this game.  He got into foul trouble and did not play much in the second half. He shot 8.3% from the field, which is way down from his season average of 41.9%.  He couldn’t seem to get into a groove and find his stroke in this game. He was out for most of the second half and he could have made a big difference, but Coach David Cox decided to keep him on the bench as he was in foul trouble.  He had four fouls, but it could have been worth the risk. The Rams play through Fatts and he needs to be on the floor when the game is on the line, no matter what. 

 Lackluster Defensive Effort

URI Athletics

It seemed like throughout the game, Rhode Island just could not stop Richmond when they needed to.  When they brought the deficit to less than 10, the Spiders would be able to score on almost every possession to keep a safe lead.  Four out of Richmond’s five starters put up 10 points or more including 19 from Nathan Cayo. The defense stepped it up near the end, but they kept trading buckets with Richmond.  Richmond players were left open too often and forwards Cayo and Grant Golden were able to suffocate the defense in the paint.

Coach David Cox looked frustrated looking on at his team’s defensive effort.  At some points in the game, Cox was screaming at his team from the bench trying to get them going and in position.  The offense didn’t show up, but the Rams couldn’t stop Richmond’s offense, and that is why they took the loss at home. 

What’s Next For The Rams?

URI plays Davidson(6-6) at home on Wednesday then travel to VCU(12-3) on January 11th.  The big test for the Rams is the VCU game, but with the two-game slide URI is on, every game is becoming more and more crucial.  This is now the most important part of the season. In conference play, wins and losses count for so much more as the seeding in the A-10 Tournament can go a long way in determining who makes the tournament.  David Cox and his team will want to not make losing a habit down the stretch. If they want to make the tournament in March, things are going to need to turn around for the Rams.