The University of Rhode Island’s men’s basketball got off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2021 this week, after defeating the Fairfield University Stags 93-80 on Thursday and the Wagner College Seahawks 69-53 Tuesday.
The Rams entered Thursday’s matchup with the Stags 1-0 after a 81-70 victory over Central Connecticut State University on Nov. 6.
Rhode Island opened up the game with a 6-0 run after a layup and three point field goal made by fourth-year point guard Jaden House. Their hot start continued as the hosts jumped out to a 15-5 lead over Fairfield following another House layup.
11 of the Rams first 15 points came from House, who scored 25 against CCSU in the season opener, his Rhody debut.
As the first half rolled on, the Rams had a 22-10 lead with 11:37 remaining, with 18 of Rhode Island’s points coming from House. House opened up the game shooting 6-8 for a percentage of 75%, a strong number compared to the Rams team total of 56.1% vs CCSU.
The Stags got back within single digits after a three pointer from fifth-year Providence College transfer Brycen Goodine, and a layup from second-year Michael Rogan.The field goals made the score 22-15 with 11:10 remaining in the first period of play.
Rhody ended any attempt at a run after that, as first-year Cam Estevez sank a three point shot for his first career collegiate points that put the Rams back up by 10, 25-15. The Rams then went on a 10-3 run with three layups from first-year forward David Fuchs.
The run made the score 35-18 in favor of the Rams with 6:38 remaining in the first half. Rhode Island continued to pour it on from there, making the score 49-24, a 25-point lead as the teams went into halftime.
The Rams shot 7-14 from behind the arc in the first half while limiting their opponents three pointers, as the Stags sank just three of their 15 attempts in the first 20 minutes.
“I thought we were very active in the first half,” URI Head Coach Archie Miller said postgame. “Our defense led us to some offense, House was terrific.”
As the second half opened, the two teams went back and forth with the Rams continuing to pull away. Rhody got their largest advantage of the night with 9:35 remaining, leading 75-41 after a layup from fourth-year forward Tyson Brown. The Rams allowed the Stags to get within 15 points as time winded down, but Fairfield did not have enough time to make a comeback. The Rams ran the clock out throughout the rest of the half, securing the 93-80 victory to make their record 2-0. House led the Rams with 22 points while adding three rebounds and a steal. Fuchs had 15 points of his own combined with 11 rebounds to earn the first double-double of his collegiate career.
“It feels great,” Fuchs said postgame. “What feels best is we won our second game, I think that’s very important for us.”
Despite the win, Miller was not happy with his team’s second-half performance, one that saw a 30-point lead slip to 13 in the final 10 minutes.
“Second half was not a very mature team out there on our end,” Miller said. “We did some good things, we made some good plays but in a game like that you can see the immaturity.”
The Rams then hosted the Wagner College Seahawks in another non-conference matchup on Tuesday. Rhody entered the game 2-0 while Wagner was 1-1 coming off a 83-48 victory over Molloy College.
The Seahawks took an early 8-4 lead over Rhode Island after two three-pointers from third-year point guard Zaire Williams. The Rams fought back with six straight points to take a 12-8 lead with 14:30 remaining in the first half. The visitors came back and took a 14-12 lead before the Rams went on another six point run, propelling them into a lead that they would never relinquish. The run gave the Rams a 20-14 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first period of play.
As the first half continued, the Rams upped their lead to 37-26 with 46 seconds remaining. The 11 point lead was the teams largest of the night, and one they took into the half. Rhode Island shot over 58% during the first half while the Seawhawks were shooting just 30% from the field.
The second half opened with back and forth scoring from the two teams before a nine point run from the Rams to make it 57-39 with 9:54 to play. The 18 point lead was the Rams largest of the night, and one insurmountable for the Seahawks to overcome. Rhode Island went on to defeat Wagner 69-53 to advance to 3-0, in a game where Miller said he was much happier with the closing stages.
“We had 10 four-minute segments in this game, and we only lost one,” Miller said. “I thought the last 12, eight, six minutes, when they were gonna press and do something, that’s usually when we got a little silly in the last two games…[that] didn’t happen…For the most part, we didn’t take our foot off the pedal defensively.”
The Rams face off against Northwestern University on Saturday during their opening game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun. Tip off is at 2:30 p.m. and is available to be streamed on ESPN+.