Men’s basketball extends winning streak to 13 games
Top: Jared Terrell soars to the baskest against Duquesne. Bottom: Rams “dog-
pile” on Stan Robinson following his game-winning three as time expired on Saturday afternoon. Photos courtesy of Photo by Friday.
The No. 22 University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team recorded their 12th and 13th consecutive wins this week and advanced to 10-0 in Atlantic 10 conference play.
Stanford Robinson’s three point shot as time expired secured a 61-58 victory for the Rams over the Duquesne Dukes on Saturday afternoon. Duquesne’s Eric Williams Jr. tied the game at 58 on a layup with 28 seconds left in the second half, giving Rhode Island an opportunity to draw up a game-winning play. Jeff Dowtin, who finished with a game high six assists, would be given the ball and drove to the basket.
“I just wanted to get the ball to our best decision maker,” head coach Dan Hurley said, referring to Dowtin, who ranks third nationally with a 4.7 assist-turnover ratio. It was then that Dowtin spotted Robinson in the corner in front of Rhode Island’s bench.
“All I was thinking was cutting to the baseline,” Robinson said. “There were too many people in the paint, so I faded back.”
As for whether or not Hurley drew up a play specifically designed for Robinson, Hurley shrugged and exclaimed “Uhhh, no,” while laughing.
Robinson would be as open as an ice cream parlor during the summertime. As to why that was the case, Robinson believes players underestimate his offensive ability, and think of him as just “a defensive player.” That made it even more satisfying for him when the shot went off.
“I practice that shot every, so I knew that shot was going in,” Robinson said while he and his teammates and coach chuckled heartily.
E.C Matthews, who was standing near the free throw line when the final play occurred, questioned whether anyone saw him as he visibly showed no emotion and avoided the pile of Rhode Island players that mobbed Robinson.
“I saw it at a good angle, I knew it was going in,” Matthews said. “I was just happy we won the game.”
Matthews second half offense was a key factor in Rhode Island’s come-from-behind victory. Offensive woes plagued the Rams throughout the game, as Rhode Island was held to 23 first-half points by the Dukes, their lowest first half total all season. They saw themselves down by 15 points with 16:14 left in the second half, and desperately needed a spark plug. Matthews fit that role perfectly and found his rhythm, scoring 14 of his game high 20 points in the final eight minutes of the game.
“[I] just needed one to go in,” Matthews said. “My teammates and Coach Hurley kept telling me to shoot. We knew we’re going to win the game, we have a lot of senior leaders on here and we just find ways to win.”
Hurley praised Matthews for his late game heroics, calling his ability to score in the final minutes of games the “sign of a clutch player.”
“E.C the second half just took over,” Hurley said. “[He] put the superman cape on and made huge shots. It’s hard to do.”
Hurley also praised the intensity that the Dukes and head coach Keith Dambrot brought, saying that they “believe that they are a team that’s supposed to win” and “one of the few teams we play all year that plays as hard as we do.” Hurley noted that for once they were on the winning side of corner three point shots, harking back to last year when Dayton’s Xeyrius Williams hit a game winning three in the opposite left corner in the Ryan Center.
“Left corners have been very bad to us,” Hurley said. “The chances of us winning on a left corner three today was very minimal.”
Rhode Island traveled to the Mullins Center to face the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Tuesday night and escaped a close outcome winning 85-83. UMass’ Luwane Pipkins would go to the charity stripe with 1.8 seconds left and made his first free throw, but purposely missed his second shot in an attempt to get the ball back and try another shot. However, he would be called for a moving violation, giving Rhode Island the opportunity to inbound the ball and secure their 13th consecutive win.
Rhode Island led by as much as 14 in the second half, but UMass clawed their way back and made it Rhode Island’s consecutive game being decided by one possession. Hurley said that these close fought games were just “a typical conference game”, and that they have to expect that moving forward.
“We got a big target on us,” said Hurley. “[We have] a ranking, a really long winning streak, and people are giving us their best games. It’s something we have to get ourselves emotionally ready for.”
Dowtin recorded his first career double-double, finishing with 19 points and ten assists, while Jared Terrell scored a team high 21 points on 75 percent shooting from the floor. Rhode Island will prepare for an A-10 tournament championship rematch when they travel to the Siegel Center and take on Virginia Commonwealth University on Friday night.