Freshman forward Jermaine Harris goes for the fastbreak layup against Fordham on Saturday. Photo by Greg Clark.
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team fell to Fordham University in overtime 66-63, a week after getting blown out by Dayton by 29 points. Three days later they went down to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and got pounded for their worst loss, losing 76-42.
“Wow, a tough loss today, particularly tough because I thought our guys were really locked in,” said Cox after Saturday’s loss. “I thought that these guys gave full effort, and got back to playing Rhode Island basketball.”
Cox was right, it wasn’t the defense that struggled against the Bronx team, it was the offensive woes that have been a constant throughout the season. Rhody shot 18-55 from the field including an abysmal 1-12 from behind the arc. In all of Division One basketball, Rhode Island ranks last in terms of three-point percentage at 25.4 percent.
Despite the poor shooting, Rhody was in it all afternoon long, but a few mistakes turned out to be the difference in the game.
“We were there all night tonight, and we made some mistakes down the stretch which obviously cost us the game,” said Cox. “Things we have to get better at, we have to continue to grow, we have to continue to mature.”
In terms of defense, it was night and day compared to last time out against Dayton. Last Saturday the Flyers were able to shoot above 60 percent from the floor, including going 50 percent from three. This week was a different story, Fordham only shot 38 percent from the field and was held to eight of 21 from downtown. URI was also able to force 13 turnovers and even matched the program’s single-game record for blocked shots, with 15.
Despite the improved defense there were still two players who Rhode Island couldn’t slow down. Forward Chuba
For the hometown Rams it was Cyril Langevine who had a day as he put up his 13th double-double of the season, the most since Lamar Odom had 19 back in the 1998-’99 season. Langevine finished the day with 14 points and matched his career high in rebounds with 18.
“With some of the shooting concerns it limits our options down the stretch and shrinks the floor,” Cox said. “[Langevine] has to work in a crowded area and even with that he still played like a man today.”
“Now we have to get back to the gym and we have to continue to work,” Cox said. “We have six games left and right now were sitting at 12-12,
The next game on the schedule was a trip down to the always chaotic Sigel center, home of the VCU Rams. URI hopped out to a 6-5 lead but it was the home Rams who took control the rest of the way. VCU went up by double digits and never looked back.
URI had a glimmer of hope heading into the locker room as Dowtin hit a three as time expired. That glimmer was quickly squashed as VCU came out on a 9-0 run to start the second half. VCU was led by the strength of their team, their defense. They held the visiting Rams to just 13 field goals and turned them over 20 times.
On the offensive side it was sophomore forward Marcus Santos Silva as he had 19 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
“I thought we came out and played with some energy early,” Cox said. “But again, once the shots stopped falling I thought our defense took a little bit of a hit. Particularly towards the second half of the first half, I’d say– they went on a little bit of a run.”
Cox also went on to talk about his team’s mental state and how it will affect them moving forward.
“When you don’t see that ball go in the basket as a basketball player, as a competitor, sometimes it plays with your psyche,” said Cox. “I think that’s the issue that we’re having right now. I’ll definitely be locked in on these guys’ psyche and mentality over these next two days. I’ve had no indication at all of give-up or separation or anything like that. I think they’re probably just a little bit overwhelmed by now by the circumstances. That happens.”
Rhode Island will look to get back on track with a tough matchup at home this Friday. The Davidson Wildcats will come into town looking to go for the season sweep of the Rams. Davidson topped Rhode Island with a 68-53 win earlier this month down in North Carolina. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. on ESPN 2.