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URI Blows 10 Point Lead, Loses 57-54 to St. Joe’s

Thursday, February 20, 2014

 

KINGSTON, RI-- In lieu of a traditional, textbook lede, sometimes it’s better to let one of the main subjects of the story tell it like it is.

“Just another excruciating loss,” was URI Head Coach Dan Hurley’s blunt (but effective) summary.

URI led by 10 points in the 2nd half Wednesday night at the Ryan Center, but a 12-2 St. Joe’s run to tie the game with 10 minutes to play signaled another fight to the finish for the young Rams.

And, like so many times this season, be it Providence, St. Louis, UMass, or anyone else- URI failed to close out an upset at home and instead were left searching for moral victories and a glass slipper that fits.

“If there’s anything I’m disappointed in, it’s probably shot selection and ball security to start the second half,” Hurley said. URI shot 38% from the floor and 21% from 3 point range for the game, and their shooting struggles overshadowed a largely impressive performance.

Rhody won the rebounding battle 35-30 and had 14 assists compared to just 11 for St. Joe’s. The Rams held Hawks’ leading scorer Langston Galloway to 6 points on 2-12 shooting, and scored 11 bench points to just 7 for SJU.

It didn’t matter. When the chips were on the table and the clock was winding down, the Hawks stepped up their game. Ronald Roberts scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to lead SJU, and freshman sensation DeAndre Bembry scored 12 points on 5-6 shooting for the Hawks.

The real hero on Wednesday night, however, was St. Joe’s senior Halil Kanecevic. Kanacevic finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, but it was his clutch play late in the game that carried the Hawks to victory.

After picking up his 4th foul with over 10 minutes to go, Kanecevic sat for 8 minutes of basketball time. When he returned to the game, he showed no signs of getting cold on the bench, getting the ball in the low post and isolating against URI freshman Hassan Martin.

Martin is easily URI’s best post defender, but Kanecevic has the guile of a player who has been through it all at St. Joe’s. All game long Kanecevic used an inside move to his left hand on the low block, until he caught Martin cheating on that last isolation and executed a quick drop step to his right side for an easy layup.

St. Joe's big man Halil Kanecevic draws Hassan Martin away from the hoop and prepares his move in a key moment.

He wasn’t done there. With St. Joe’s leading by 1 point and just over a minute to play, the Hawks ran a play that resulted in aforced shot with a long rebound. Kanecevic was there for the key offensive board with one minute to go, and he pulled the ball outside and called the last spread offensive play for himself.

Not many teams can run a spread, high screen offense for their center, but Kanecevic has point gard skills to go along with his 6’8”, 255 pound frame.

Galloway came out to set a makeshift screen, and Kanecevic put the ball on the floor and drove hard to his left, past a confused Martin and threw the middle of the Rhody defense for an easy layup.

E.C. Matthews’ 3 pointer at the end was off-line, and that was it.

For St. Joe’s, the win moves them to 8-3 in the Atlantic 10 and 18-7 overall. URI falls to 11-16 overall and 2-10 in conference play. It’s also URI’s 6th consecutive loss.

Matthews led the charge for URI with 17 points, and Gilvydas Biruta added 10 points in a losing effort. After carrying an 8 point lead into halftime, URI scored just 21 points in the 2nd half Wednesday.

URI next plays Saturday afternoon at St. Bonaventure. The Rams return home the following Saturday, March 1st, and take on Richmond at 2 p.m.

 

 

Notes

--Hurley had high praise for Kanecevic after the game and described the “point-forward” as having an NBA skill set.

--Injured URI point guard Biggie Minnis (hip) was dressed for pregame warmups and took part in a light shootaround. He did not dress for the game, but it’s encouraging to see him able to do light basketball activity.

Hurley said he hoped to “get him through a couple of practices” and re-evaluate Minnis this weekend. Hurley also stressed the need for another body given URI’s depleted rotation.

--Wednesday night was URI’s 8th Annual “Pink Out” for Breast Cancer Awareness.  Fans, cheerleaders, and coaches were all decked out in pink for a good cause.

 

Follow Jack on Twitter @RealJackAndrade
 

 

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Comments:

“If there’s anything I’m disappointed in, it’s probably shot selection and ball security to start the second half."
I, for one, am getting so sick of excuses. Just coach better so you won't have this problem but spare me quotes like this time time after time.

Comment #1 by joe adamowicz on 2014 02 20

Again, the coach we need here is BOBBY, not Dan. Bobby was a star at Duke and recruits were obviously attracted by his storied past and wanted to learn from him. His success at Buffalo proves this out. His leaving all but sealed the fate of the program in Kingston which in my opinion is going is backwards. Let's face it, we'd be better off with coach Baron As the season draws to a close let's look at what is going on. Another big losing year and another year on the sidelines as the exciting period of March Madness begins. Is this what we want? Of course not. Button up the year, give coach his walking papers, and start anew. There are plenty of qualified assistants hitched to big time programs who would be give their eye teeth to start at low mid-major. What are we waiting for Rhody nation? Strike when the iron is hot. (By the way let's not rule out Al Skinner).

Comment #2 by joe adamowicz on 2014 02 20

By the way, anyone notice how coach Jim Baron has reached the 20 win mark at Canisius and how his son Billy is a bona fide all-star. Why can't we get a coach and players like that? LOL. In all seriousness it's a good thing Baron's boys are not on the URI schedule because Hurley would not have enough excuses after getting his doors blown off. He'd be spinning like a run-away tornado after the master coach twirled him around like a little top. There's a big difference between a bona fide coach and a glorified high school mentor.

Comment #3 by joe adamowicz on 2014 02 21

I stand corrected. Coach Baron has 18 big wins but will undoubtedly end up with 20 and and I wouldn't bet against an NCAA bid.

Comment #4 by joe adamowicz on 2014 02 21

8-21 record last year. This year to date, 11-16, currently on a 6 game losing streak, 4 games left: St. Bonaventure, UMASS, Richmond and Fordham. There's a very strong possibility that Hurley could drop the final four games and finish at 11-20 on a 10 game losing streak and finish his two years at 19-36. I mean really, these are FACTS. So does this guy seem like an up and coming coach after two years. We've been duped.

Comment #5 by joe adamowicz on 2014 02 22




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