On Saturday one of the most highly anticipated games of the year for Rhode Islanders took place as the Providence Friars visited the Thomas M. Ryan Center. Unfortunately for Rhody, this was yet another case of a resume building win slipping away, but this time in heart-breaking fashion as Friar forward Ben Bentil tipped in a missed Kris Dunn layup as time expired to give Providence a 74-72 victory.
In the first half the Friars started fast as they opened up to a quick 19-8 lead on URI, but the Rams responded fast on the strength of a run of their own. The run ended up being a 28-17 edge for URI, and was led by an unfamiliar face as freshman Christion Thompson canned three three-pointers, including one shot where he was fouled and made the free throw for the four-point play.
“Christion obviously gave us a huge lift for a freshman,” head coach Dan Hurley said. “To come in and play in a game like that, and play the way he did as a freshman was really impressive.”
In the second half the Rams and Friars would continue to keep pace with each other, with neither team holding bigger than a five-point lead in the entire second half.
However, the end of the half is where things really got interesting. With the game tied at 70, Rhode Island attempted to trap Kris Dunn. As Dunn was pushed toward the sideline he threw a pass toward the middle of the court, which was deflected by Jared Terrell. Unfortunately the tip would land right in the hands of Ben Bentil for an uncontested dunk and a 72-70 lead. Terrell however would then answer with a jumper of his own to tie the game at 72, after Hassan Martin grabbed an offensive rebound to feed Terrell’s second shot attempt.
After the jumper, Dunn went coast-to-coast and caused the defense to collapse, forcing a missed layup and leaving Ben Bentil wide open for the game-winning tip-in as time expired.
The loss came despite strong performances from Rhody on the glass with 17 offensive rebounds, a 34-26 edge overall on the boards, a career high from Jarvis Garrett with 17 points and seven rebounds, forcing Dunn into six turnovers.
“It was obviously a heart-breaking loss, we played so well,” Hurley said. “We played so hard. I was proud of the effort, but crushed by the loss. They were a tip-in better at the horn.”