Reeling off a three-game losing streak, the Christmas break couldn’t have come at a better time for the University of Rhode Island’s Men’s Basketball team. Playing eight games in 23 days, Rhody got themselves some much needed rest heading into tonight’s game against the St. Bonaventure.
The Bonnies have been one of many teams severely affected by COVID-19 this season. The team went on pause for two weeks preceding the start of the season after a positive COVID-19 test and have had two other games cancelled due to the virus.
The team would enter the Ryan Center with only two gamesworth of tape–– victories over Akron and Hofstra.
The rust was visible for the Rams early on as the team would turn the ball over 13 times in the first, matching their average per game so far this season. URI would eventually settle into the game, going on a 6-0 run to take a 24-20 lead before going cold from the field. The Bonnies would take advantage of the Rams scoring drought and head to the locker room with a two-point lead thanks to a late drive to the basket from Bonnies guard Kyle Lofton.
In the second half, Rhody came out firing turning a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead, keeping the Bonnies scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half. The Bonnies would counter the Rams with a run of their own to tie the game with 8:29 to play.
The two teams would continue to go back and forth until a Mahkel Mitchell transition dunk and a three from Antwan Walker opened up a five-point lead for the Rams. The team would hold onto this lead down the stretch and come out with a 63-57 victory for their first conference win of the season.
Although the game didn’t look pretty, Head Coach David Cox was glad that the team was able to earn its first victory in over four weeks.
“In any game, there’s going to be adversity,” Cox said. “It could happen at the beginning, the middle or at the end and it just so happened for us at the end of the half and then towards the tail end of the game when they tied it up. I just thought our guys were in a really good place today. They were communicating in a really positive manner, they were supporting one another and I think that made all the difference.”
He made sure to note how sloppy the team played throughout the game.
“We didn’t play our best ball––24 turnovers is too many,” Cox said. “We shot 60% from the free-throw line. What I will take from this game is that we didn’t play at our best at all today, but we still came out with the victory. I think that shows that we have the talent and it shows that we have a high ceiling, but we have to get to work. We got to clean up these things fast and right away in order for us to get to where we want to be.”
Jeremy Shepard led the way for the Rams with a game-high 17 points, shooting an efficient 5-for-7 from the field. He was followed by Antwan Walker, who earned himself his second double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
For the Bonnies, Lofton led the way with 13 points followed by Jalen Adaway, who had a dozen. Osun Osunniyi, their leading scorer heading into the game, was in foul trouble throughout the game and was held to eight points.
The Rams will conclude the final game of their three-game home stand on Sunday when they take on Saint Joseph’s. Tip off is set for 4:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on NBC Sports Network.