The last time the University of Rhode Island Men’s Basketball team traveled to the University of Dayton Arena to take on the Dayton Flyers, a 17-0 run to start the game for the home team was too big of a deficit to climb out of.
It was a similar story this afternoon, where a 16-0 blitz to start the second half sank the Rams chances of pulling out a victory.
Rhody dropped to 9-9 on the season with a 67-56 loss on Saturday. The difference of play in the two halves were a perfect illustration of the team this year, as they went into the locker room up three points on the 2020 Atlantic 10 Champions. As Head Coach David Cox said after the game though, the second half was simply not good enough.
“A tale of two halves,” he said. “I thought we had tremendous defensive energy in the first half, shots were falling, and we took care of the ball. It was almost a perfect half. Second half our shots didn’t fall necessarily. They went on an early run and we felt okay about it but as the shots continued not to fall our defense suffered a little bit and when that happens against a team like that it’s hard to come out with a win.”
The Rams shot 31 percent in the second half and couldn’t find their offensive rhythm that they had in the first. They missed their first 11 shot attempts trailing by as many as 16 in the latter half of the game. Cox said missing shots is part of basketball, but the defense needed to offset that wasn’t to be found.
“Based on the way we have been playing throughout the year and based on the way we played that first half, I am not sure necessarily what it was,” Cox said about the teams shooting in the second half. “Our shots didn’t fall and that happens, but when that happens our defense has to go to another level, and it didn’t.”
Turnovers, which has been a consistent issue for the team, were a prime half-by-half comparison that spoke to the team’s performances at large. Rhody only had three total in the first half, dictating the tempo against one of the favorites in the Atlantic 10. They coughed it up eight times in the second half, more in line with the Rams struggles.
The moment of the first half came after Fatts Russell limped into the locker room with notable frustration on his face, with teammates counseling him on his walk in. Russell, who checked back into the game with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half, left because of an ankle injury, according to Cox. The starting point guard, who missed last Sunday’s game with a core muscle injury, tried to give it a go in the second half but his head coach said “he just couldn’t do it.” He played a total of 19 minutes and finished with four points.
Redshirt sophomore Jalen Carey stepped up for the Rams in the senior’s absence, leading the visitors on a 13-5 run to build a nine-point lead during his first half absence.
Ibi Watson led all scorers with a game-high 22 points and chipped in with seven rebounds. All Atlantic-10 conference team guard Jalen Crutcher scored 13 second half points after only two in the first. Jeremy Sheppard led the Rams in scoring with 16 points.
Up next for the Rhody is a home date with Virginia Commonwealth University, a team that URI has matched up well against in the past. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday inside the Ryan Center.