The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team started their Atlantic 10 title defense Friday when the UNC Asheville Bulldogs traveled to the Ryan Center. URI took care of the Bulldogs as they won by a final of 84-60.
The Rams hit the ground running in the new season as they started the game on an eight to two run getting baskets from four different players. URI never trailed and was tied for only 11 seconds the entire game.
URI had a 16 point lead heading into halftime and didn’t slow down as they pushed the lead to as many as 28 in the second half.
Head coach Dan Hurley’s squad was able to force 27 turnovers and capitalized on the Bulldogs’ mistakes by scoring 28 points off turnovers.
“I was thrilled with the way we guarded,” Hurley said after the game. “Our calling card is how we get after people on defense”.
On top of the defense another reason the Rams dominated the Bulldogs was the depth Rhode Island was able to show. URI’s bench outscored UNC Asheville’s 35-10 with true freshman Fats Russell and junior transfer Ryan Preston each putting up six points a piece.
Senior, sixth man Stanford Robinson finished with an impressive stat line and even got praise from his head coach who said, “Stan was all over the place tonight.”
Robinson finished with a game-high 18 points, seven steals, three rebounds and two assists. The seven steals were the most in one game by a Ram since Keith Cothran had seven at Ohio on Dec. 27, 2006.
Getting his first career start was junior forward Andre Berry. Berry,who had seen action off the bench the last two seasons, had an impressive first start as he scored 15 points in 17 minutes. The 15 points matched his career high.
Berry credits his career game to his coaching staff and pre game preparation. “We knew it was going to be a big paint game a lot of paint scores,” Berry said.
Seniors Jared Terrell and E.C. Matthews stayed relatively quiet on offense. The upperclassmen finished with a combined 16 points.
It is also worth mentioning that the Rams played in front of 6,367 fans Friday night which is the largest opening night crowd in Ryan Center history.
The Rams second game of the season took place on Monday in the wild, wild west as they traveled to face Nevada. URI would go on to lose that game by a score of 88-81. The story of the game was the free throw barrage from Nevada as they made 36 of the 44 free throws attempted.
Senior guard E.C. Matthews suffered a fractured wrist against the Nevada and is out 4-6 weeks.
The Rams will look to get back in the winning column this Sunday as Holy Cross comes to town. The game is set for a 1 p.m. tip off.