Cats on the Prowl in the Ryan Center
Recap: Davidson at Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island started A-10 conference play at home Friday night in a matchup against the Davidson Wildcats. The cat's out of the bag here: the Rams fell 67-58.
Last season, David Cox led his Rams to 13 conference wins, only battling losses for five. But tonight's game started league play out on the wrong foot and hopefully with a black-out finals period, he can prepare his team for their next conference game against St. Bonaventure.
This past Wednesday the NCAA released some news that benefits the Rhode Island bench: all Division I transfers are now eligible, thanks to a "blanket waiver" that has been put into effect. This granted access for Towson transfer Allen Betrand to hop off the bench and make his Rhode Island debut. In just 11 minutes of play he totalled for eight points off of two three-point shots and three field goals.
For a majority of the first half the two teams were at each other's throats, alternating leads four times. To kick things into gear, Malik Martin had three back-to-back three-point jumpers in the first five minutes of play. This effort right off the tip contributed to his career-high of 20 points.
However, the Wildcats crept up to the Rams when Nelson Boachie-Yiadom made a layup to steal the lead 24-23. Martin tried to put his team back on top before halftime with a fast break layup on a turnover. But Hyunjung Lee of Davidson freed the ball from his fingertips at the corner of the court, swishing the basket right as the buzzer sounded.
While superstar Fatts Russell was scoreless himself in the first half, he did manage to contribute to 11 points the first 20 minutes. Going into the game he was tied in tenth place alongside Parfait Bitee with 331 career assists, but with tonight's addition of six, he bumped up a spot and now sits ninth in program history with 337 assists.
Russell has been having some difficulty with foot aches and pains, specifically in the heels and ankles, which could have been why he performed below average. Cox claims that this has been a hindering complication for Russell.
"We have to manage his practice load throughout the week," Cox said. "He's got the heel, he rolled both of his ankles in Western Kentucky, in preseason he had his hamstring. He's had a lot of wear and tear on his body over the years."
Coming out onto the court for the second half, Davidson owned the court executing a 13-0 run to put them up 52-39. The Rams tried to catch up but the closest they came the remainder of the game was a three-point deficit, 54-51.
Offensive efforts from Carter Collins, Kellan Grady, and Lee locked in a nine-point differential as Davidson exited the Ryan Center with a conference win, 67-58.
Jermaine Harris was down under the basket clenching his knee in the midst of the second half. He was escorted off of the court and never returned. Cox didn't have any updates in regards to Harris's injury in the press conference.
The Rams had a solid first ten minutes on the court, but after that things seemed to simmer off defensively and offensively. One thing that stuck out was their attempts at the free-throw line. In the first half the Rams shot 50 percent from the stripe, but coming off the half their free-throw percentage dipped to 33 percent. Cox is in agreement that his boys didn't seem to have it together after the first few runs up and down the court.
"Honestly, after the first ten minutes they didn't remain connected," Cox said. "They weren't comfortable enough playing one another, and that's an issue I have to address."
Considering Rhode Island's next game is just slightly under two weeks away, the team will have enough time during this "finals dead period" to get back in gear and connect on the court mentally and physically.
The Rams host another conference game when the St. Bonaventure Bonnies troop up to Kingston. This second league game will take place Dec 30 with tipoff set for 4 p.m. EST.