The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team took to the Ryan Center against what looked to be favorable matchup against the College of Holy Cross, who tenaciously kept the game close for a while before a big second half put fans at ease.
The Rams struggled to generate offense early against a defense that switched between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man. Reckless turnovers, exacerbated the offensive issues and allowed scrappy Holy Cross to overcome the Rams’ advantage in size and athleticism by playing patient basketball and finding production with the 3-pointer, which they landed 44 percent of the time in the first half.
URI seemed to come out with a chip on their shoulder in the second half and quickly stretched the lead to eight before the Crusaders grinded their way back to within three with under 10 minutes to play. With the alarms beginning to sound, junior Hassan Martin jammed one home to reignite the crowd and the team, who followed suit with a 9-0 run to extend the deficit to double digits and effectively shift the momentum back to their side, where it remained the rest of the way.
Iverson has settled nicely into his role as the new de facto offensive centerpiece with his first career double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was aided by frontcourt mate Martin who scored 14 and grabbed 7 off the glass to go along with a strong defensive effort that silenced the Crusaders in the second half.
Despite the productive performances, there was still a lot to be desired as the clearly physically superior Rams continued their trend of mediocrity, leaving head coach Dan Hurley unsatisfied.
“I don’t think we did many things right today,” Hurley said. “We were lethargic, had no energy. The whole scene was just dead. We’ve lost a bit of our grittiness as a team. I have got to find a way as a coach to create more enthusiasm.”
URI is coming out flat at the worst time, with the highly anticipated clash against in-state rival Providence College taking place this Saturday, 7 p.m. There will surely be an aura of excitement and hatred permeating through the Alex and Ani Court.
“Our guys are really going to have to adjust to what atmosphere is going to be like,” Hurley said. “It’s going to be a different type of feel for them. It’s well beyond state bragging rights. For us, it’s about finding a way to beat a top 20 team.”