Leggett had 14 points, six rebounds and two steals in a tight loss at Fordham. PHOTO CREDIT: gorhody.com
Riding a six game losing skid, the University of Rhode Island Men’s Basketball Team was desperate to climb back into the win column this past week against Fordham and Loyola Chicago. First, the team traveled to the Bronx on Saturday to take on Fordham in “The Battle of the Rams.”
The game started back and forth, as neither team was able to establish a consistent form of momentum. Halfway through the first half, the teams were tied at 19, with fourth-year Malik Martin tallying nine points for Rhode Island while Will Richardson led Fordham with six.
The remainder of the half was the same, as both squads traded runs not amounting to a large lead on either side. However, a Darius Quisenberry three pointer gave Fordham the lead in the final seconds of the half, 36-35. Kyle Rose led Fordham in the first half with 10 points, Martin matched him with 10 of his own.
The second half saw Fordham gaining the early advantage, a 6-0 run in the first 35 seconds. This would have played a bigger impact if Rhode Island didn’t answer back with four points of their own.
The tug of war continued all the way down the wire, however the lead never waivered. The Fordham advantage grew to seven and shrunk to one, but never sank to zero. The game continued to stay close as a costly turnover from Fordham’s Antrell Charlton allowed Rhode Island’s Ishmael Leggett to send one final shot. The shot missed, and Fordham escaped with a 74-71 win.
After the loss, Archie Miller admitted that there were difficulties that they encountered throughout the game, but backed his players in the end.
“I’ve got no problems with my guys,” Miller said. “We played hard as hell. We were in a very hostile environment. It’s one of the best, if not the best environment we’ve been in all year with Fordham’s crowd.”
Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym, first opened in 1925, is coveted for its history. Only seating 3,200 people, Miller felt the sold-out crowd in attendance played a role in the game.
“[The crowd] played a real role in the game, but I thought our guys handled it really well, with maturity, and played hard,” Miller said. “That’s what we’re asking our guys to do,”
The players, however, were a bit more disgruntled a few days later when they addressed the media, stating that they need a win now more than ever, especially since they had no wins on the road all year, going into their bout with Loyola Chicago.
“We’re desperate right now,” said second-year guard Sebastian Thomas. “I don’t know how many road games we’ve had so far… I feel like we need one. It’s one of our last few games before the A-10 [tournament], I feel like if we get a road win it will give us a lot of confidence going into our next few games.”
Wednesday night served as Rhode Island’s last opportunity to win on the road this season, when they traveled to take on Loyola Chicago, the team that joins them at the bottom of the Atlantic 10 Standings.
The beginning of the first half saw Rhode Island gain a five point lead over the Ramblers. A 10-0 run placed the Rams on top and saw contributions from a number of scorers. Ishmael Leggett led the Rams with 10 points, while Sheldon Edwards led Loyola with 5 through the first 10 minutes of play.
Rhody ended the second half ice cold, converting only one of their last ten field goals. This allowed Loyola to keep the game close, as they too were unable to get any scoring late in the half, not scoring a field goal for the last 3:53. Jalen Carey’s 13 points led the Rams, while Marquise Kennedy led Loyola with 10 points. The Rams held the 44-37 advantage at halftime.
The beginning of the second half was all Rhode Island, as a Rory Stewart three-pointer served as the climax in a 10-0 Rhode Island run, giving Rhody their largest advantage of the night, a 17 point lead. However, Loyola stormed back, trimming that lead smaller and smaller, until Jalen Quinn brought the deficit to only five points halfway through the second half. Rhode Island still led 60-55.
Loyola continued to come back throughout the second half, until Loyola’s Braden Norris eventually tied the game at 77 with 10 seconds remaining. Ishmael Leggett then brought the ball down the court and made both free throws after being fouled, giving Rhody the lead back.
Loyola had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Jalen Carey jumped in front of the pass, ending the game with Rhody on top 79-77. The Rams earned their first win on the road in 410 days, the last time coming against UMass on Jan. 15, 2022.
Leggett led the Rams with 20 points and Sheldon Edwards topped Loyola’s stat sheet with 16 points.
The Rams are back in action when they host the Davidson Wildcats in their season finale on Saturday on Senior Night. Tip-off from the Ryan Center is set for 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.