URI Men’s Basketball opened up the second semester with quite possibly their best win of the season. Led by a great second half, Rhody defeated their A10 opponent, putting them at 4-2 in conference play. This win can be characterized by great defense, team play, and heart.
Fatts Russell paced URI’s scoring, finishing with 19 on the night. In the past three games, Rhody fans have seen somewhat of a different style of play from the sophomore. After going 0-7 from 3 in their loss the George Mason, Russell has shot a combined five 3 pointers in their past three. He’s gone 3-5 and scored 18, 20 and 19 respectively. Obviously shooting from beyond the arc has been a struggle for the team has a whole this season, and I’m sure they’ve recognized that. Fatts has done a great job adjusting, whether it’s by turning defense into offense (4 steals and 5 assists vs. St. Bonaventure) or simply attacking the hoop more (resulting in 13-16 from the FT line the past two game). If this young team wants to make an A10 run, Fatts is going to have to continue to lead by example alongside Dowtin and Langevine.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 24, 2019
Although Rhody’s 3 pt shooting hasn’t been stellar, they’ve been making up for it on the defensive side of the ball. Holding opponents to 30.1% on average from deep, VCU shot just 16.7% last night and had a whopping 18 turnovers. With 5900 fans behind them, the team came out with intensity on the defensive half. Not only did they get into VCU at the perimeter, but they played tough down low. Jermaine Harris and Christion Thompson took multiple charges, allowing for some momentum shifters.
Harris had one of his best games of the season, getting a few extra minutes with Langevine fouling out. He was aggressive and tough, contributing 8 points and 7 rebounds as well.
After being on the worse side of a low scoring 25-21 first half, URI exploded for 50 points in the second half. Dowtin, Langevine and Martin all found themselves in double digits for the game. Martin’s play has been terrific for the Rams as of late. Not only is he an athletic scorer, but he can also defend the perimeter with his combination of length and speed. Tyrese is a great rebounder too, pulling down 7 last night.
The second half went off to a great start, as the Rams went on a 14-3 run to go up 43-34 with 8:30 to go. Although VCU cut it to two points with 1:00 left, Jermaine Harris buried the dagger from 15 feet with 0:33 remaining. URI didn’t look back and came out with the win.
Rhody fans should really be excited about this win, and it was a job well done by David Cox. The young team was well prepared for a physical battle, something that will mature them going forward.
The Rams travel to UMass on Sunday where they will take on the Minutemen (7-12, 0-6). They are led by Junior Luwane Pipkens, who’s averaging 18.2 / 5.3 / 5.3. Containing him will be the key to victory.