Freshman guard Tyrese Martin plays tight defense in front of a rowdy URI student section against Davidson. Photo by Momolu Akoiwala.

Team gets back on track week before Atlantic 10 Tournament

Fierce competitor,” head coach David Cox said. “It was his will that got us this win tonight.”

Those words perfectly encapsulate what Tuesday’s win at St. Joseph’s was all about: Fatts Russell. The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team is currently riding a three game win streak that includes back-to-back overtime road wins this past week.

After snapping their five-game losing streak against George Washington, URI turned their attention to Dayton. It was only three weeks ago when the Flyers came into the Ryan Center and gave the Rams their worst loss this season, beating them by nearly 30. The Rams had all the motivation they needed as they went into Dayton and pulled off the upset in an overtime thriller.

The Rams were lead by Cyril Langevine, whose efforts were good enough for Atlantic 10 Player of The Week, as he put up a new career high with 26 points to go along with eight rebounds and three blocks. URI was able to push their lead to as many as 12 points in the second half, but the Flyers came back and redshirt freshman Obi Toppin scored three points in the final minute to tie it at 63 a piece.

Dayton had a chance to win it in regulation as a tip in rolled off the side of the rim as time expired to send it to overtime. Overtime was a back and forth affair that went down to the wire. The difference proved to be a Dana Tate putback to put URI up 72-70. The Ram defense stood tall and left Ohio with the victory.

Next up for URI was a trip to Philadelphia to take on the St. Joseph Hawks. It was a homecoming for sophomore Guard Fatts Russell and he stole the show. Russell put up an eye popping 41 points Tuesday night. It was the most by a Rhode Island player since Tom Garrick’s program-record 50 against Rutgers in the 1988 Atlantic 10 Championship. Russell also scored the final 19 points for the Rams.

This was plain and simply the Fatts Russell show.

“If I see the first one go in clean then I know it’s going to be a long night for the opposing team,” said Russell.

And a long night it was for the Hawks as they saw seven threes fall from Russell which has been a struggle for the whole Ram squad. In total, URI was able to connect on 11 deep balls and shot 42 percent.

Russell’s shooting woes have been a huge topic of conversation this year as he came into the contest shooting 20 percent from deep.

“Look, that kid stays in the gym 24/7,” said fellow backcourt teammate Jeff Dowtin. “He’s a hell of a basketball player. He needed this game right here. He’s been working his (backside) off. I’m just happy for him.”

Dowtin also had an impressive night as he put up 23 of his own points. He also put up five rebounds and had three assists. He also had no turnovers in 43 minutes.

Coach Cox really liked what he saw out of his veteran led backcourt in the overtime victory.

“Go to him, ride him until the wheels fall off,” Cox said. “And I thought him and Jeff had a great balance tonight. When Jeff was kind of hot Fatts took a back seat, and then same thing. I thought they both played a great game together.”

The win gave the URI their 15th win overall and also their eighth conference win. Rhody currently sits in eighth place in the A10 with the conference tournament next week. Next up is the UMass Minuteman who defeated them back in January. The game is scheduled on Saturday and tip off is set for 4 p.m. on Yurview/ESPN+.

“It’s just the right time for all of this to be happening for us,” said Cox. “Obviously our focus now will turn to Saturday’s game against UMass. They got us one game. This is our Senior Night. It’s our final regular season game. We want to end this thing the right way.”