KINGSTON – For seemingly the 100th time this year, the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team saw a close game slip away in the second half, as the Rams couldn’t keep pace with a more talented opponent.
For Senior Day on Saturday afternoon, the cast of characters changed, as the University of Massachusetts Minutemen played the role of past squads like La Salle, St. Bonaventure and VCU. However, the ending was the same, as the Rams lost 75-66.
As usual, the Rams were within striking distance at the half, trailing by just a single point with about four seconds left. In a play that epitomized URI’s season, UMass point guard Chaz Williams got the ball in the backcourt, shook off light contact from 60 feet away, and then launched a runner off one foot and with one hand about a step behind the 3-point line.
Of course, the shot banked in, giving UMass a 37-33 lead at the half.
The Rams (8-21, 3-13 Atlantic 10) fought the Minutemen (19-10, 9-7 Atlantic 10) throughout the second half, and UMass never could grab a healthy lead until the game’s final minute. There were 11 lead changes, and the teams matched one another when it came to scoring in the paint, on the fastbreak and on second chance opportunities.
The different came at the free throw line, as URI shot 11-for-19 overall, and 2-for-7 in the second half. Xavier Munford, who led the Rams with 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting, missed two technical free throws with 2:47 remaining, following a technical foul on Williams for taunting.
UMass, already up 67-62, pushed the lead to 70-62 via a Trey Davis 3 following the missed free throws. URI managed just two more buckets, an alley-oop to Jordan Hare and an uncontested layup by Munford, in the final tow minutes.
URI had no answer inside for UMass big man Cady Lalanne. While Williams had 20 points for UMass – 10 on free throws – Lalanne was the difference maker inside. He finished with eight points and 15 rebounds, as URI was limited to five offensive rebounds despite 29 missed shots.
Besides Williams and Lalanne, Freddie Riley also excelled for the Minutemen. The guard only took 3s, but shot 6-for-9 and finished with 18 points.
The Rams got almost nothing out of their regular rotation at the 5-spot. Hare, Mike Aaman and Ryan Brooks combined for seven points and seven rebounds in 41 minutes. Aaman and Brooks each only had one rebound.
Senior Andre Malone started the night out hot for the Rams, stroking two 3s in the game’s first five minutes. However, he cooled off from scorching to his season averages, hitting just one of his next four attempts from 3 and finishing with 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting.
Sophomore Mike Powell played well at the point for URI. While he only had five points and missed the only two free throws he attempted, he dished out eight assists and only had two turnovers, despite near-constant pressure from Williams. The Rams in general struggled to get scoring opportunities off turnovers, only getting two steals as a team.
With the loss, URI finishes its 2012-13 season 8-21 overall. Head coach Danny Hurley said the team would get about a week’s rest for Spring Break, but then it would be back to practicing with several transfers that will be eligible for the 2013-14 season, along with the incoming freshmen class.
Depending on how Fordham closes its season, URI will finish in either 14th or 15th place. URI finished four games behind a pack of six teams in the Atlantic 10 bunched at spots eight through 13 – only the top 12 qualify for the conference tournament in Brooklyn this year.
Excluding some big offseason news, this will end our coverage of the men’s basketball team for this year. Thanks for following along with us, folks! If you want to make sure that you get e-mailed when we do articles for the 2013-14 season, click the “keep me posted!” button below.