Was the proverbial bubble burst Sunday in Kingston? That’s for the members of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee to decide. However, Rhode Island didn’t help their chances as they fell to the Saint Louis Billikens 72-62 in Kingston.
The Billikens opened up the Sunday matinee on a 7-0 run which forced Rhode Island head coach David Cox to call a timeout just 2:39 into the game. Out of the timeout St. Louis made their next two shots as well, all while giving Rams fans flashbacks to three weeks ago in Dayton.
Rhode Island made their first bucket at the 13:47 mark when senior guard Jeff Dowtin nailed one of his signature mid-range jumpers. Rhody shrunk the lead to seven when sophomore guard Tyrese Martin decided to join in on the mid-range party with 11:40 left in the first half.
That didn’t last long, as the Billikens traded shot-for-shot with the Rams until another 7-0 ballooned the St. Louis lead to 13 with 4:14 left in the first half. Rhody would head into the break trailing 26-19.
URI opened the second half with a Fatts Russell turnover, but then immediately Russell stole the ball back and scored on an up-and-under layup, cutting the Billikens lead to five. However, that five point lead would quickly inflate to a 16-point lead through a 13-0 run by St. Louis.
After trading baskets for the next five minutes, it was Rhody’s turn to make a run. The Rams notched a 10-0 run of their own on the backs of Dowtin and Martin.
The Billikens were in total control of the second half after this point, not allowing the Rams to cut the lead to any more than five at any point. A layup by Billikens junior guard Javonte Perkins with 1:17 left gave St. Louis an 11-point lead and all but put the nail in the coffin for Rhody.
Junior guard Fatts Russell paced the Rams with 17 points and also added eight steals. Those eight steals broke Russell’s own school record of seven for steals in a game.
Senior forward Cyril Langevine added 11 rebounds, he also had 12 points which was good enough for his 32nd career double-double. He did this all while playing the entire forty minutes coming off an upper-body injury.
“I probably asked him ten times during the game, do you need one?” Cox said. “I was tired watching him. He was relentless and an absolute warrior today.”
St. Louis stuck to their game plan of working the ball inside to their big men, junior Hasahn French and freshman Jimmy Bell Jr. Combined, the two had 24 points along with 18 rebounds.
“It was a disappointing loss,” Cox said. “Travis Ford did a much better job of preparing his guys than I did preparing ours”
Fifty-six of the Billikens 72 points came in the paint.
“That’s who they are,” Cox said. “We couldn’t match their physicality, they throw it inside, they touch paint, they touch paint, they touch paint and put as many bodies in there as they possibly could.”
The Billikens limited the Rams to just 37.9 percent on their field goals and a measly 16.7 percent from long range.
Rhode Island will host No. 4 Dayton on Wednesday at 9 p.m. It’s senior night for the Rams as Jordan Green, Eric Dadika, Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine will all be honored prior to the game. It can also be viewed nationally on CBS Sports Network.