It looked pretty good for the Massachusetts Minutemen in the early minutes of the game. Two quick baskets put UMass up 4-0 over the Rhode Island Rams.
The Rams would hit back-to-back three's by E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell to tie it at six. This shooting display was just a preview of what was to come.
Before we go any further though I have a small favor to ask all color commentators. Please, for the love of Julius Erving, STOP BRINGING UP CHAZ WILLIAMS. We all get that he is no longer here and that UMass could use his leadership on the court. However, HE GRADUATED AND IS NEVER COMING BACK SO STOP BRINGING THIS UP EVERY FREAKING GAME. Okay rant over.
Both teams would battle back and forth for the next 12 minutes. With the game tied at 20 and 3:55 remaining in the first half URI pulled away. Gilvydas Biruta made a shot inside that ignited an 8-3 run to close out the first half and give the Rams a 28-23 halftime lead.
One reason for this dominance for URI was the lack of Maxie Esho in the first half. Picking up his second foul early he played just eight minutes. On top of this, Cady Lalanne had just two points with no field goal attempts (2-4 FT).
The second half was even worse for the Minutemen. Hassan Martin and E.C. Matthews found their grove as they extended their lead to 45-30 at the 13:06 mark. Martin showed why he is the A-10 leader in blocks with four in this game. He also added 11 points and ten rebounds.
URI would never give up the lead despite some effort from UMass. The Minutemen press was successful at forcing turnovers but UMass failed to capitalize too many times. While UMass forced 15 TO's, the Rams were even better as UMass committed 18 of their own. Davis was the leader with four, something that he had been good about during the UMass winning streak.
Lalanne played his worst game of the season by far with five points and was just 1-2 from the field. He was 3-8 from the line. His 10 rebounds were nice but he was just not the dominant force that UMass needs him to be. Even worse was Maxie Esho not picking up the slack. Plagued with fouls, Esho had just two points and two boards. Not the performance UMass is looking for from its senior leaders.
Because of the poor frontcourt play, UMass was outrebounded by eight, 35-27. The big factor was the Ram's 11 offensive boards to just six from UMass. UMass only had two second chance points in the first half and fell behind too much for it to matter in the second.
The crowd in the Ryan Center really seemed to affect UMass as they were never able to stop a run. It was a packed house and the student section was fired up from the tip.
Three Minutemen did manage to score in double digits despite only scoring 59 points. Jabarie Hinds was the biggest bright spot tonight as he led the team in scoring with 17 points and kicked in an impressive four steals. He was a man possessed on the defensive end including the press which led to many layups. Donte Clark was third in scoring with 14 points and was one of hte only UMass players to be aggressive with his shot.
E.C. Matthews was the Rams leading scorer with 16 points and UMass had no answer for him defensively. He was just one of four Rams to score in double figures with Martin (11), Jarvis Garrett (13), and Jared Terrell (14). Biruta just missed with eight points and surprising avoid foul trouble all game, something that has troubled the big man.
Derrick Gordon as the player of the first half for UMass with seven points to lead them. He ended up with his usual stuffed stat sheet of 15 points, seven boards, five assists and two steals.
This was the snap of a lot of streaks for UMass. Not only did their six game winning streak end but so did their three game road win streak. Davis also lost an individual streak of free throws made after he went 1-2. Like they say though, all good things must come to an end.
URI is now tied for first place with VCU at 10-3 in the conference. UMass is just one game behind at 9-4 and has a good opportunity to make up ground as they travel to VCU on Saturday for a noon game.
|Points||J. Hinds (17)||E.C. Matthews (16)|
|Rebounds||C. Lalanne (10)||H. Martin (10)|
|Assists||D. Gordon (5)||J. Terrell (5)|
|Blocks||Three tied (1)||H. Martin (4)|
|Steals||J. Hinds (4)||T.J. Buchanan (3)|