KINGSTON – Freshman forward Mike Aaman gave the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team a much needed energy from off the bench in the first half, as the Rams held on for a 76-66 win Saturday afternoon against the Vermont Catamounts at the Ryan Center.
Aaman finished with 15 points on a variety of putbacks, drop-off passes from guards Mike Powell and Xavier Munford, and post-up hooks in the lane. He also led with the Rams with eight rebounds, and played a career high 24 minutes.
The work of Aaman inside and good screens freed up Xavier Munford, who again led the Rams with an efficient 25 points. The junior transfer shot 7-for-11 from the field, including three treys, and led the Rams with five assists.
He and Powell were again the primary ballhandlers, as the two combined for 67 minutes of court time. Powell had four assists, three steals and just one turnover, but for he and the rest of the Rams, an old nemesis returned late in the second half – free throw shooting.
URI (2-6) struggled to put away the Catamounts (4-2), despite a 14-point halftime lead and a 22-point lead with 11:57 left. As the Rams’ lead got as slim as seven points with 57 seconds remaining, the team missed the front end of 1-and-1s and struggled to score.
With 11 minutes left, the Rams had 58 points. In the next 10 minutes, URI would only score 10 points, until a layup on a press break by Powell and free throws from Powell, Munford and Andre Malone put the game away.
The final tally showed an ugly second half slide for the Rams from the line. After shooting 12-for-14 in the first half, the Rams finished 11-for-21, for a mark of 65.7 percent.
Exeter native Ben Crenca started for the Catamounts, but only played four minutes.
The senior is recovering from an injury, and scored a single point, going 1-for-2 from the free throw line. He airballed the first free throw attempt, which got a rise out of the crowd, before sinking the second. He missed two shots from the field, but did chip in two blocks.
The listed attendance for Saturday’s game was 4,126.
URI’s next test comes against in-state rival Providence College (6-2). The Rams play at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center 7 p.m. Thursday. The game is televised on OSN, which is channel 5 or 1005 on Cox.
However, the health situation for the Friars is dire. According to The Providence Journal, Providence won 73-63 against Mississippi State on Saturday, but may have lost guard and leading scorer Bryce Cotton in the process to a knee injury.
If Cotton can’t play Thursday, the Friars will have just five scholarship players. Even with Cotton, PC is one of the few teams that URI has more depth than. Cotton’s absence would leave the Friars with just one guard. Cotton is scheduled to get an MRI on his knee, according to Kevin McNamara of The Journal.
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