Rams Start Fast, Limp to Victory over McNeese State
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
KINGSTON, RI-- The University of Rhode Island Rams are 6-2. That may not seem overly significant, but for a program on the mend it’s a sign of progress. In fact, these Rams are over a month ahead of last year’s in terms of winning basketball games.
URI didn’t get their 6th win last season until January 4th (they best Brown in that game). There was nothing easy about Tuesday’s win, however, as URI allowed a 21 point 2nd half lead slip down to 3 in the final 20 seconds, but held on by the skin of their teeth for a 76-71 point victory.
Xavier Munford led the scoring charge for Rhody with a game-high 26 points. Gilvydas Biruta was also strong for URI, notching 17 points and 8 rebounds in the win.
Kevin Hardy led the charge for the Cowboys, scoring a team-high 24 points in the loss. Adrian Fields and Craig McFerrin each notched a dozen points for the Cowboys.
Rhody was lights out from 3-point range, shooting 44% (10-23). URI also converted 92% from the free throw line (22-24).
The Rams outrebounded the Cowboys 33-29 and won the assist battle 16-12. Led by T.J. Buchanan’s 13 points, the Rhody bench outpaced McNeese State’s 27-17.
URI sits at 6-2 heading into their next game at George Mason this Saturday. Even though George Mason joined the Atlantic 10 this season, Saturday’s game will not be an official conference game. The sole conference meeting between the 2 teams will take place at the Ryan Center on January 18th.
The next home game for the Rams is Thursday, December 5th at home against rival Providence College. Tipoff for the state’s biggest rivalry game is at 8 p.m.
Biggie Minnis and E.C. Matthews each made their first career starts in a Rhody uniform Tuesday. URI Head Coach Dan Hurley spoke highly of both players earning the starting roles after strong starts to the season individually.
“They’ve played well,” he said. “How I’ve learned the game is you’ve got to come in and earn it, it doesn’t get handed to you, that destroys your culture.”
On the growth of the team and the program from last season, Hurley was blunt but encouraged.
“We’ve beaten the teams we were supposed to beat, and that didn’t always happen last year,” he said. Hurley also gave credit to both SMU and Arizona, saying those teams are clearly better right now than the Rams are.
Hurley said he is most looking forward to getting back into the gym and practicing this week. Because of their hefty game schedule of late the Rams haven’t had a real full practice in 10 days, according to Hurley. Hurley also said he thinks the team is most in need of some of the reserves stepping up and emerging as guys that can replace a starter on the floor without the Rams seeing a drop-off in production. He did single out Buchanan as the clear-cut 6th man right now and the most trustworthy player off the bench for the Rams.