St. Joe’s Holds on to Beat URI 61-57
Thursday, January 23, 2014
An 18-2 St. Joseph’s run midway through the second half turned a 37-31 URI lead into a 46-39 deficit for the Rams, and the Hawks survived some shaky free throw shooting down the stretch to beat the Rams 61-57 Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Ronald Roberts scored 20 points and snared 9 rebounds for St. Joe’s, who move to 13-5 overall this season and 3-1 in Atlantic 10 Conference play. Langston Galloway scored 15 points for the Hawks, including an 8-10 performance at the charity stripe (the rest of the team was 13-28).
URI refused to fade despite the 18-2 punch in the gut, and cut the lead to 5 points on a highlight reel worthy put-back dunk by Hassan Martin with 49 seconds to go in the game.
Galloway made 3 free throws over the next 24 seconds as Rhody intentionally fouled him in order to get the ball back, but Xavier Munford made a pair of free throws to make it 60-54 with 20 seconds left in regulation
Roberts missed both of his free throws after another intentional foul, and Munford buried a long 3 pointer on the other end to make it a 1 possession game with 9.6 seconds to go. The Hawks imbounded the ball to Galloway, and the senior guard made 1 of 2 free throws to put the game out of reach for URI. Munford’s 3 pointer at the buzzer was no good, but it wouldn’t have mattered much given the 4 point deficit.
Munford led the charge for the Rams with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals, but the senior had an off shooting night (5-16 from the field) and didn’t get much help along the way offensively.
E.C. Matthews struggled all game (2-12 shooting) and scored just 4 points. Gilvydas Biruta was limited to 11 points in 19 minutes due to foul trouble. No other Ram scored more than Jarelle Reischel’s 8 points (off the bench).
Rhody shot 38% from the floor, 18% from 3 point land, and 67% from the line for the game. St. Joe’s was similarly poor shooting the basketball, shooting 44% from the floor, 14% from 3 point range, and 55% from the free throw line.
URI led 30-27 at the half after closing the first half on a 7-0 run. Rhody won the first half rebounding battle 24-15 despite not getting any from Gilvydas Biruta, who leads the team with an average of 7.2 rebounds per game.
URI’s 2 leading scorers (Munford and Matthews) combined to shoot 3-14 in the first half, making it even more amazing that the Rams were able to take a lead into the intermission. The big reason (outside of rebounding) was defense.
Rhody scored 14 points off turnovers in the first half and surrendered just one field goal over the final 7 minutes and change. After allowing 18 points over the first 10 minutes of the half, the Rams held the Hawks to 9 points over the final 10.
The second half started well, with Munford stealing a lazy pass and converting the easy layup to give the Rams a 5 point lead. The teams would trade buckets for a few possessions at that point, but URI slowed the tempo of the game down and ate 25-30 seconds of shot clock on every possession as they grinded out to a 37-31 lead.
It was at that point that the Hawks made their run, and Rhody never fully recovered enough to get back into a position to win the game.
The Rams finished with a 40-30 rebounding advantage for the game, and each team registered 11 assists and 5 steals. URI turned the ball over 14 times to the Hawks’ 13, but overall the teams were pretty identical statistically except for one key factor: free throw attempts.
St. Joe’s attempted an incredible 38 free throws (28 before intentional fouls inflated the number even more late in the game) to the Rams’ 15. The home team usually sees more of the charity stripe than the road team across all basketball levels (call it the human element to being a referee) but Wednesday night was far more drastic than usual. Over the course of the 18-2 run that changed the game in the second half, URI was called for 8 fouls compared to 2 for St. Joe’s.
This isn’t to say the referees were the primary reason URI lost the game. But on a night when they were down to 8 scholarship players (Biggie Minnis was inactive with a hip pointer) the Rams couldn’t afford any additional disadvantages. The free throw disparity (despite St. Joe’s lackluster performance, they still scored 21 points at the line compared to 10 for the Rams) certainly provided such a disadvantage.
URI falls to 1-4 in Atlantic 10 play, and 10-10 overall on the season. Next up for the Rams is a home date with Dayton this Saturday at 4 p.m.
--There’s been no official word to this point about a timetable for Minnis’ recovery, but given that it’s a hip pointer it’s likely to be a day to day injury. The backup point guard took a nasty spill over a loose ball in the second half of Saturday’s game against George Mason and only briefly retuned to the game.
--How’d you spend your Tuesday? For the Rams, Tuesday is a day they won’t soon forget, as their travel plans were tumultuous in getting out of Kingston and into Philadelphia. The team couldn’t fly due to the winter storm conditions, and wound up sitting in traffic on a bus for 5 and a half hours before switching over to an Amtrack train and taking that into Philly.
--Saturday's game is part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend, and URI will be selling Keeny-blue t-shirt's to "stomp out cancer," a moniker created due to URI Head Coach Dan Hurley's occasional stomps on the hardwood to get his players' attention. Net proceeds from the t-shirt sales will be donated for cancer research. For more details on the t-shirts and the weekend in general, click here.
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