Photo courtesy of the Providence Journal |
The No. 18 University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team winning streak of 16 games came to an end Friday night as they fell to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 77-74, but the team clinched a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title when they prevailed over the La Salle Explorers 95-93 in overtime on Tuesday night.
St. Bonaventure’s Matt Mobley was the star of the show for the Bonnies on Friday night, finishing with 26 points off of five of 11 shooting from beyond the arc while grabbing nine rebounds. Mobley would be named the United States Basketball Writers Association player of the week in part due to his performance against the Rams.
The Atlantic 10’s second leading scorer, Jaylen Adams, finished with 10 points while dishing out eight assists. Mobley and Adams combined for 36 points and provided fits for the Rhode Island defense. LaDarian Griffin, who was averaging 2.3 points over his last three games, scored a bench-high 14 points while scoring 10 of the Bonnies last 14.
Shooting-wise, the statistics pointed towards a Rhode Island victory. The Rams shot 45.5 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc, as opposed to St. Bonaventure’s 38.1 and 36 percent respectively. However, turnovers and free throws proved to be the difference maker in the A-10 basketball showdown. The Rams turned the ball over a season-high 17 times, while the Bonnies only coughed up the ball 11 instances. The Bonnies would outscore the Rams 18-7 in points off of turnovers. St. Bonaventure would also shoot 87 percent from the charity stripe, with Mobley missing two of the team’s three total missed free throws in the final 14 seconds of the game. Rhode Island would shoot 75 percent from the charity stripe.
For the Rams, “Batman and Batman” would show up and perform when needed against the Bonnies. Jared Terrell finished with 23 points, his highest total since playing at Dayton on Jan. 20. E.C Matthews, who was initially listed as day-to-day with a bruised left knee, suited up and scored 14 points, all coming in the second half. Langevine contributed off the bench with a double-double, finishing with ten points and ten rebounds.
Friday night also marked the first Atlantic 10 loss that the Rams have suffered in 21 games. The last time the Rams lost in conference play was their controversial home loss to Fordham 53-43 on Feb. 15, 2017, almost exactly one year earlier. One thing that college basketball has proven is that all streaks must come to an end. The Rams held the nation’s longest winning streak of 16 games for a grand total of one day, as the No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats lost to the University of Houston Cougars 67-62 the night before.
Tuesday night saw the heart rates of many Rhode Island faithful rise above recommended levels, but the Rams pulled out a 95-93 victory in overtime against the Explorers to start a new winning streak at a grand total of one. With the win, the Rams clinch at least a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title. The Rams also move to 14-1 in conference play, tied with the 1987-88 Rams, who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen that year, for the most conference wins in program history.
Jeff Dowtin scored a career high 25 points in a team-high 38 minutes. Dowtin, after missing a key one-in-one free throw against the Bonnies in the final seconds of the game, would sink four clutch free throws in the final five seconds of overtime to secure the game for the Rams. Dowtin was 11 of 12 from the charity stripe, while dishing out seven assists in the effort. Stanford Robinson, despite fouling out with 2:32 left in the game, finished with 20 points while grabbing a team high seven rebounds. Unlike the St. Bonaventure game, the Rams would dominate the turnover battle, forcing 19 turnovers as opposed to their seven and outscored the Explorers 22-6 in points of off turnovers. However, Rhode Island missed 11 free throws while shooting 3 of 19 from three-point land, statistics to certainly forget down the line.
The Rams would also hit a couple of milestones in the overtime win. With 95 points, the Rams scored the second most points in a game under Hurley’s tenure at the program, second only to their 107 points scored against Marist College on Nov. 14, 2016. However, the Rams allowed 93 points, the most points surrendered under Hurley, with the next closest being 89 points against Southern Methodist University on Nov. 11, 2013.
Rhode Island will welcome the Dayton Flyers to the Ryan Center on Friday night, and with a win they will clinch the Atlantic 10 regular season title for the first time in program history. With a new winning streak intact and the pressure that comes with winning streaks subsided, the Rams now set their eyes on finishing the season healthy and prepared for an A-10 tournament run.