Photo by Autumn Walter|CIGAR
WASHINGTON D.C. – What a difference a year makes. Last year the 2017 Atlantic 10 final
featured the University of Rhode Island Rams vs. the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams. This year those two same teams met up again at the A-10 tournament except in the quarterfinals.
It was the No. 25 Rhode Island Rams that would come away victorious. Behind clutch free throw shooting to close out that game and a team-high 18-point performance from Jeff Dowtin, URI took down VCU 76-67 at the Capital One Arena in Washington.
“It’s always a great challenge to play VCU,” Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley said following the game. “They’ve been the model mid-major program in college basketball for a long time. You’re not really expecting to see VCU in a quarterfinal game. That was your typical postseason, conference game.”
Dowtin fished the game shooting seven of 10 from the field and three of four from three-
point territory. “March is really when all the big players step up,” Dowtin said. “They made
they’re game just grow even more. Last year was a coming out party for me. I just love March. The best players come out and do that they have to do to win.”
Rhode Island had a 69-61 lead with 51 seconds left in the second half. From that point on the Rams shot a perfect eight of eight the charity stripe to close out the final minute. After a 0-2 week to close out the regular season, including a 63-61 loss at Davidson where the Rams couldn’t close out the effort, it was clear that Rhode Island was desperate to finish a game.
“We did what we didn’t do the other day,” Hurley said. “Got a lead late like we did
against Davidson on the road. Almost in the same exact situation, up six almost 40 seconds to go. We showed who we have been all year and come through in the clutch.”
Dowtin led the charge for Rhode Island along with senior guard Jared Terrell. Terrell finished the game with 16 points, three rebounds and three steals and two assists all while playing all 40 minutes of the game.
Rhode Island had struggled in the first half against a tough zone started by VCU. URI had led 36-33 at the half with their three-point advantage coming from a Fatts Russell three-point ball as time expired. Russell finished the game with 11 points off the bench and three of six shooting from beyond the arc. Rhode Island managed to break through the zone defense in the second half, outscoring VCU 40-34.
Rhode Island will face off against the St. Joseph’s Hawks on Saturday afternoon in the A-
10 semifinals. With a win Rhode Island will advance to their second consecutive A-10 final for the first time in school history. The Rams will look for revenge as St. Joe’s. Just two weeks ago the Hawks spoiled the Rams senior night. Rhode Island fell to the Hawks 78-48.