Yesterday’s game marked a rematch of Rhody’s January 6th loss to the Billikens. In the previous match-up the Rams were without Fatts Russell, and Tyrese Martin filled in for the sophomore guard. Since then, Martin has impressed and become a mainstay in the Rhody lineup. They have gone 5-3 since that loss, including yesterday’s 65-54 victory.
Responding to Adversity
This game was certainly a gut check, as the team not only looked to avenge the loss in their previous match-up at St. Louis, they were coming off two consecutive losses as well. After losses to UMass and Duquesne, the Rams knew that they could not let this turn into a three game skid.
The Rams also knew that this game vs. St. Louis would be a battle, and there would be adversity within this game alone that the team would have to respond to.
“I knew that they would play well because the crowd was going to be here and we were going to be energized by that,” said Coach David Cox, “but also… St. Louis is a really good team… and at some point they were going to make a run.”
The Billikens made an 8-4 run to tie the game at 39-39 in the second half, but the Rams were obviously prepared as they quickly punched back to secure their lead.
Learning from the Past
St. Louis was led by Javon Bess with 24 points in their first meeting, but was held to a scoreless first half and just 2 points on the game. Stopping him was certainly a priority for Coach Cox and the team, as Bess has been one of the better scorers in the conference. This is evident by his 31 point game against Richmond on Wednesday.
His low total yesterday can be accredited to URI’s preparedness and overall versatility on defense. They put different defenders on him, including Christion Thompson and Jeff Dowtin, never allowing Bess to settle in. They were physical with him too, and Cox’s game plan proved to be effective.
“Phenomenal player – definitely one of the better players in this league, he just didn’t really have it tonight,” said Coach Cox.
It’s the Little Things
Although Cyril Langevine only had 6 points, his presence was obvious on the floor. He anchored the Rhode Island defense; finishing with 5 blocks, 9 defensive rebounds and 1 steal. Cyril has been a bright spot for the Rams all season, and yesterday was more of the same. He brings a level of physicality, athleticism and aggressiveness that many teams would love to have.
Even though he had 4 fouls, this really wasn’t the worst thing. St. Louis was trying to play through Hasahn French, and he had 15 points and 7-13 shooting from the field. However, Langevine wasn’t afraid to trade French’s looks inside for trips to the line, where French was 1-8.
Langevine also noted, “this is the most assists I’ve had in a game,” afterwards and Coach Cox couldn’t help but smile.
Martin Continues to Grow
Anyone who has been watching Rhody basketball is aware of the impact Tyrese is having for the team. Aside from his 3 point shooting and 10 rebounds, Martin has been a spark plug for the team.
He electrified the Ryan Center with a dunk to go up 9 with 1:20 remaining and immediately followed it up with an alley oop from Jeff Dowtin to put the game away.
Ironically Martin carries himself with a serious demeanor on the court.
“I’m an even-keeled type of guy,” Martin commented after the game, “The game wasn’t over yet.”
URI will travel to first place Davidson (16-5 / 7-1) on Wednesday, playing at 7:00 PM on ESPNU. The Wildcats are led by their backcourt of Kellan Grady (18.1 / 2.0 / 4.2) and Jon Axel Gudmundsson (16.3 / 4.2 / 6.8).
Look for the Rams to attack inside vs. the guard heavy team.