KINGSTON – The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team had no answer for Charlotte on the glass, as the 49ers used double-digit rebounding advantages in both halves to wear down the Rams for a 58-50 win.
After a half, the Rams trailed Charlotte in rebounding 22-11, but held a 31-30 lead thanks to 52.4 percent shooting. However, as the Rams cooled off, the 49ers kept up the intensity on the boards, finishing with a 45-25 advantage over URI in rebounding.
Burly 6’8” Charlotte forward Willie Clayton led the way with 11 points and 13 rebounds, and 6’4” guard Pierria Henry also had 10 boards. DeMario Mayfield came off the bench to lead Charlotte with 17 points, as leading scorer Chris Braswell struggled with fouls and played just 23 minutes.
URI (5-10, 0-2 Atlantic 10) led by as many as eight in the first half, but saw its lead slip away as Charlotte (14-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) went to work in the post and on the boards.
Rhody played a bigger lineup than usual, with Mike Aaman in the starting lineup with Ryan Brooks, and freshman center Jordan Hare often playing beside either Aaman or Brooks. Nikola Malesevic saw his minutes reduced to just 19 despite not being in foul trouble, but they came mostly at the 3.
However, leading scorer Xavier Munford struggled to get his offense going after picking up two first half fouls. Munford only played six minutes in the first half and his shooting never got back on track, as he went 3-for-12 from the field and 0-for-5 from behind the 3-point stripe.
As a result, Mike Powell and Andre Malone were forced to shoulder the load, as Malesevic only had three points off the bench. Powell finished with 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting, and Malone was the only Ram to hit a 3-point shot, finishing with 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
With 16:14 left in the second half, Hare hit a layup to give URI a 39-33 lead. However, the next URI field goal didn’t come until 10:20, when Andre Malone hit a jumper to give URI a 44-42 lead. URI didn’t score from the field again until 4:43, as a circus no-look pass from Hare led to a layup by Aaman.
The Rams’ final field goal of the game came on a layup by Munford with 1:48 left. The Rams hit only seven shots in the second half.
URI has a week to prepare for its next game, which is 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at Saint Louis (12-3, 1-0 Atlantic 10). The next URI home game is 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 against George Washington (7-7, 1-0 Atlantic 10).