The University of Rhode Island’s men’s basketball team opened the regular season with an 81-70 victory over the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils in Kingston on Monday.
The game started a new era of basketball for the Rams, with 11 of their 16 rostered players being newcomers by way of transfer or first-year entrance.
The first half began slowly for the Rams as they took more than two minutes to score, allowing CCSU to open up the game with a 7-2 lead. Rhody would not be held down for long, igniting a 10-0 run of their own to take a 12-7 lead with 14:40 remaining in the first half. The run shot the hosts in front and gave them a lead they would not relinquish. The scoring run saw a pair of transfer students, fourth-year Jaden House and third-year Zek Montgomery, combine for eight of the Rams’ 10 points.
The early run combined with a shooting percentage of 63.3% in the first half led the Rams to a double digit lead, 47-31 at the break.
House scored 15 points during the half, leading all players and making himself known to the Rhody crowd in his regular season debut at The Ryan Center. The Rams defense also helped propel them into the lead, holding the Blue Devils to a shooting percentage below 42%.
The second half opened with a 9-0 run from the visiting Blue Devils, who were attempting to mount a double digit comeback with 20 minutes to play. The run was ended by third-year Brandon Weston who scored five straight points for the Rams to put them up 55-44 with 16:22 remaining.
Following the buckets from Weston, the hosts went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 65-44 with 12:10 remaining in the game. The scoring run was a combination of strong offense as well as smothering defense as URI held CCSU scoreless for over six minutes, forcing four turnovers. During the six minute stretch the Blue Devils missed seven shots, with three coming from behind the arc.
The Rams extended their lead to 70-47, their largest lead of the night, after a dunk from second-year center Jeremy Foumena with 8:45 to play. CCSU then went on a 8-0 run with second-year forward Jaden Brown cashing in twice, with four points on the run. The run made the score 70-55 with 6:57 remaining.
The Rams fended off any other possible runs from the Blue Devils and the teams traded points until the buzzer sounded, with the Rams claiming the victory 81-70.
“Opening night of college basketball, stressful day,” Head Coach Archie Miller said postgame. “We as a staff really prepared for Central Connecticut. I think a big thing for our team will be who’s going to step up on different nights.”
House scored 25 points in his Rhode Island debut. He led all scorers and was a force on defense with three steals.
“I still think I need to do a lot of things better,” House said postgame. “Just keep doing the things I have done in the past.”
Rhode Island next faces off against Fairfield University on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Ryan Center. The game is available to be streamed on ESPN+.