Freshmen Ishmael Leggett had his first career start yesterday when the Rhode Island Rams took on the Fordham Rams in the Ryan Center. This decision on behalf of David Cox and the rest of the coaching staff resulted after star senior Fatts Russell sustained a "core muscle injury" while the team was away at Duquesne.
Leggett stood out on the court with an overall 12 points and seven boards. Offensively the freshmen performed well, but he came off as aggressive under the rim. He had the most offensive rebounds than any other player on the Rhode Island roster, three, and had three successive second-chance baskets in the second half when time mattered most.
"With a freshmen you just never know," Head Coach David Cox said following the game. "We believe Ish and what he brings to the table, particularly from a culture point of view. That was a lot of what this decision was based on: His energy, his effort, and his competitive spirit."
In the first 20 minutes of play both Fordham and Rhode Island struggled offensively and lacked overall performance on the court. However, Fordham seemed to be the stronger team in the first half as they led by five before heading into the locker room.
Jeremy Sheppard held things together for Rhode Island in the first half, with ten points and five rebounds. Sheppard had two made shots behind the arc, one of which cut their deficit to three before Ty Perry of Fordham hit a layup on a pass-in from Jalen Cobb.
It's questionable what happened in the locker room during halftime, but whatever occurred seemed to do the trick. Rhode Island managed to hold their opponents scoring to half of what it was in the first half. The offensive performance on behalf of Fordham was utterly horrible: 6-of-27 from the field, 2-of-11 from the perimeter, and no made free-throws.
Things came to a close on 12-2 run for Rhode Island in the last seven minutes. Allen Betrand got the momentum going with a three-point shot that stole the lead from Fordham 42-40. Another three from Leggett followed, then a "play of the game" worthy dunk from Antwan Walker with the help of Sheppard secured an eight point lead. Rhode Island made sure Fordham did not steal their thunder away, ending things 52-42.
Rhode Island will move things to Philadelphia, the home of Russell, Wednesday evening to face La Salle. With Russell's injury holding from playing Fordham, there is confidence that Russell will not miss a chance to play in his home city. Tip off is set for 5 p.m. EST.