Sixth-straight loss sees men’s basketball fall to 14th, 4-11 in A-10

Ishmael Leggett led the way with 18 points vs. UMass. PHOTO CREDIT: Lucas Masiello | Staff Photographer

The University of Rhode Island Men’s Basketball team was in desperate need for a win this past weekend, especially after a brutal buzzer beater loss against Virginia Commonwealth University on Feb. 15. That win did not come against the University of Massachusetts on Saturday afternoon.

The game started out in Rhode Island’s favor, with Ishamel Leggett scoring on the opening possession. The Rams continued on that momentum, holding a 14-9 lead just over five minutes into the first half; Leggett contributed to nine of those points.

The two squads then battled back and forth, trading baskets for a number of minutes before a Rory Stewart three pointer gave Rhode Island a 19-17 advantage. However, that is where the struggles for Rhode Island began. 

The Rams hit only one field goal the last nine and a half minutes of the first half, giving UMass all of the momentum going into halftime as the Minutemen held a 34-26 lead into the break.

After half, the domination continued, as UMass collected a 15 point lead halfway through the second half. UMass’ RJ Luis collected eight points in ten minutes and led the brigade against the Rams.

The next ten minutes were no better for Rhode Island, only sinking four field goals in the final stretch. The Rams only collected 16 total field goals the entire game, tying a season low, as well as shooting 24% from the field, which takes dead last place for the 2022-23 campaign.

When it was all said and done, the Rams received their worst loss of the season, a 24 point deficit totaling to a final score of 69-45. The Rams allowed 40 points inside the paint, which proved size to be a difficult challenge for Rhode Island.

Head coach Archie Miller stated that the Rams could easily combat this struggle with a bit extra preparation.

“We’re gonna practice real hard, and that’s all I can tell you,” said Miller.

The day was not a total loss though; At halftime, three Rhode Island Basketball legends were inducted into Rhode Island’s inaugural Ring of Honor. Carlton “Silk” Owens, Kenny Green and Tom Garrick were brought out onto the court to see their numbers unveiled underneath the scoreboard. All three men were integral parts of the 1987-88 team that reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, a momentous accomplishment for a non-Power 5 conference team.

The struggles continued for the Rams on Wednesday night when they hosted the George Washington Colonials.

The game started out on a high note for the Rams, Rhode Island launched out to a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes, stunning the Colonials. However, it only took George Washington five minutes to climb back to even ground, tying the game at 16 with a James Bishop free throw.

Rhode Island then went cold, not collecting a field goal for over five minutes, allowing the Colonials to 13 points. However, a Jalen Carey jumpshot ended the drought and made the score 31-20 in favor of George Washington.

The two teams continued a tug of war battle into halftime, concluded by a Hunter Dean dunk for George Washington, increasing their lead to 39-31. The first half saw Ishmael Leggett lead the Rams with 13 points and Dean lead the Colonials with 13 of his own.

The second half was a back and forth battle as Rhode Island attempted a comeback. Rhode Island traded buckets with George Washington, but both teams could not seem to pull away until George Washington went cold. 

A 12-0 run for Rhode Island featured three Colonial turnovers, and an Ishmael Leggett jumpshot to capture a one point lead. Sebastian Thomas then sank a free throw to extend the advantage to 71-69. However, Brendan Adams’ layup in the final 30 seconds set up a tie game, and sent both squads into overtime tied at 71.

Overtime saw George Washington take the momentum early, with Rhode Island giving chase. However, James Bishop’s three pointer opened the floodgates, ensuing an 11-5 run for the Colonials that secured the win, 89-80.

Postgame, head coach Archie Miller was obviously disappointed with the result, and gave praise to his players’ resilience this season.

“What [the players] are going through, what [the team is] going through is not easy,” said Miller. “It’s very easy to run and hide. It’s very easy to not stand up and show the toughness and the character that you have as a group. But you have to be selfless, you have to think more about your teammates at this time. What can you do to help somebody?” In terms of the players, they were disappointed. Malik Martin stressed the importance of keeping a positive attitude as a team.

“Winning is hard,” Martin said. “You just have to keep going, that’s all you can really do. Just keep doing things the right way, keep approaching every day the same, just take every game possession by possession. You can’t promise yourself a win, but you can put yourself in the best position to win,” 

The Rams are back in action this Saturday when they visit Fordham, who they defeated earlier this year 82-79 at the Ryan Center. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m.