KINGSTON – A week of rest and heavy dissection of film from a loss did wonders for the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team.
Fourteen days off didn’t do so much to help Southern Methodist University though.
The Mustangs hung with the Rams for a half, but looked sloppy in the second en route to a 72-50 loss. It was the first game since Dec. 6 for URI, and Dec. 1 for SMU.
URI forced 22 turnovers, and in contrast to their last game – a 72-57 loss to Providence College – only turned the ball over 11 times.
URI sophomore point guard Mike Powell shredded SMU for 18 points, including an efficient 7-for-7 from the free throw line and 3-for-3 performance from the arc.
Although he only finished with four assists, Powell set the tone for the Rams (3-7) with his passing. Throughout the game, URI looked for the extra pass, and it was reflected in the assist total – The Rams finished with 17, a season high for the team.
Nikola Malesevic had five assists, and Xavier Munford finished with five as well, to tie for the game lead. Four Rams finished in double figures in scoring – Powell (18), Andre Malone (15), Malesevic (12) and Munford (11).
URI head coach Danny Hurley said Malesevic and Malone both responded strongly to a film session after the Providence College game, in which he admitted that he tore into them and the rest of the team.
However, after a 22-point win against Southern Methodist (8-2), Malesevic and Powell were all smiles when asked about the session.
The fifth starter for the Rams, Jordan Hare, finished with nine points on several impressive alley-oop and pick-and-roll dunks.
When Hare wasn’t in, freshman Mike Aaman and senior Ryan Brooks played well in the post, as SMU finished with 26 points in the paint. Center Cannen Cunningham fouled out after only playing 21 minutes and scoring six points.
And in contrast to earlier games, URI didn’t struggle with free throws. Beyond Powell’s 7-for-7 performance, the rest of the team shot 5-for-7, good enough for 85.7 percent overall. On defense, the Rams limited SMU to 13 shots from the line, stole the ball 12 times and had four blocks.
URI next plays a week from today, as they host Georgia State (5-4) at 2 p.m. The Rams then finish their out-of-conference schedule at St. Mary’s (4-3) on Dec. 27 and by hosting Brown (3-5) on Jan. 4. URI opens up its Atlantic 10 season at Richmond (8-2) on Jan. 9.
Want to be e-mailed when we posted a new article on the Rams? Click the “keep me posted!” button below.