That was some game. The Rhode Island Rams were 12.5 point favorites going into Wednesday night’s contest vs La Salle and were slated to dispatch their Philadelphia-based opponents with ease. But, as the 56-54 scoreline would show, it was anything but easy. Sloppy turnovers and sheer ineptitude hindered the Rams offensively throughout the game, giving the Explorers numerous opportunities to extend their leads to as much as 11 points at times. However, the Rams were able to adjust, adapt, and thankfully, overcome their deficit, and mount a thrilling comeback, one which many students will be sad they missed out on.

A Shocking First Half Display

The La Salle Explorers were 6-8 going into Wednesday night’s game, sitting 12th in the Atlantic 10 with a 1-3 conference record. To URI, this looked to be a routine conference win, a win that would help them climb the rankings and gain ground in their hunt for a March Madness bid. As it turned out, La Salle wasn’t going to make it easy for the Rams, not even close. The first five minutes were relatively even, with the Rams taking a quick 4-0 lead, but the Explorers pegged back, tying the game at 7. Once La Salle tied the game, however, was when the momentum began to shift. La Salle began to take advantage of numerous missed chances and poor passes from the Rams, and started to amass a significant lead. La Salle would hold the lead for the remainder of the half, keeping the Rams at an arms length as they entered the locker rooms. Heading into halftime, the Rams trailed the Explorers 27-35. The Rams poor offensive form was highlighted by two poor stats; shooting 1-9 from the free throw line, and being outscored off turnovers 11-2. The Rams were being embarrassed on their own court, and change needed to be made if URI were going to get anything out of this game.

Rams Save Themselves In The Second Half

The Rams came out of the locker room for the second half with a level of energy and enthusiasm that was hugely missed in the first half. Cox’s men instantly began chipping away at La Salle’s lead, then tying the game at 37 with 14:00 to play. At this point, it was La Salle’s turn to deal with the turnover bug, with errant passes and missed opportunities plaguing their offense during the second half. From the 14:00 mark onward, the Rams and Explorers would trade the lead numerous times, treating the fans to a sequence of truly exhilarating basketball. Though there were spurts during their second half where neither team would score for minutes on end, it all culminated in a frantic final minute for both teams. Tied at 54 with just under a minute to play, the Rams made an emphatic stop on defense, and got the ball up the court. Ishmael El-Amin dished the ball out to Ishmael Leggett, who drove to the basket and put up an impressive finish to give the Rams the lead, 56-54 with 00:23 to go. The La Salle Explorers did everything they could with their final possession, throwing up three 3-point attempts, none of them falling. And, as the final buzzer sounded, they too would fall. Having been down double digits at multiple points throughout the game, the Rhode Island Rams rallied, and pulled off a thrilling comeback, one which Coach Cox and his men should be mighty proud of. The Mitchell Twins finished with 10 points each, while Jalen Carey and game winner Ishmael Leggett both finished with 7 as the Rams narrowly defeated the La Salle Explorers 56-54 in Kingston.

Not A Pretty Win, But A Win Nonetheless

The Rams narrowly escaped what would’ve been an embarrassing defeat last night at the hands of La Salle. But, they live to fight another day, as they improve to 12-4 on the year and 3-1 in the A-10. This win moves the Rams up to 3rd in the conference, with the team welcoming the 12th placed George Washington Colonials to the Ryan Center on Saturday. The Rams are a resilient team that refuse to quit. Adversity has been the running theme of their season thus far, but they’ve faced every obstacle and challenge with courage and tenacity. Coach Cox has a promising group of guys at his disposal, a group who are starting to believe more and more in each other as the weeks go by. And, as that belief grows, so does their improvement on the court.