KINGSTON – It was a familiar refrain for the Dayton Flyers, as another Atlantic 10 game with the University of Rhode Island Rams ended with No. 5 hitting a game-winning shot.
This time though, it was Xavier Munford – not URI alum Marquis Jones – that did the honors, as his 3 with 3.3 left gave the Rams a 75-72 lead they wouldn’t surrender.
Munford led all scorers with 18 points, shaking off a 1-for-6 start in the first half to finish 6-for-14 from the field, and 3-for-5 from the line. However, URI senior Nikola Malesevic played the most complete game.
Malesevic finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, two blocks and just two turnovers. While he only shot 5-for-16 from the field and 0-for-3 from the line, the majority of his shots were open.
URI led 72-69 in the game’s waning moments. With 8.8 seconds left though, Dayton point guard Kevin Dillard calmly took a stepback from the 3-point line and swished the shot, tying the game at 72.
URI head coach Danny Hurley took a timeout, and he said the goal was to get the ball to either Munford or guard Mike Powell with a head full of steam, toward the basket. Munford did get the inbound in full stride, but Hurley said he got steered a bit away from the basket.
Munford instead went toward the corner, stopping at the elbow. With a Dayton defender on him and another coming to help from the corner, he elevated and hit the 3 over their outstretched arms, putting URI up 75-72.
Dayton had timeouts left, but didn’t take them, and in the ensuing confusion Dillard got well up the court. He was able to heave a shot from about 25 to 30 feet away, well behind the 3-point line, but it didn’t come close to going in.
After the final buzzer, Munford was mobbed by his teammates, along with the transfers.
Beyond Malesevic and Munford, URI got strong contributions from two members of its bench, T.J. Buchanan and Mike Aaman.
Buchanan played 28 minutes after senior guard Andre Malone picked up two quick fouls in the first half. Although he finished with just five points, three assists and two rebounds, he gave the Rams a much-needed defense spark.
Aaman shook off a moment of unintentional comedy in the first half, when the rim stuffed him on a dunk attempt, to have one of his better games as a Ram. In 18 minutes, he had 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field. If not for a fifth foul, he would have finished out the game on the floor.
Jordan Hare, splitting time with Aaman at the five-spot, formed an effective duo for 34 minutes. Hare finished with eight points on 4-for-7 shooting, and snagged seven rebounds and three blocks.
Thanks to 50 percent shooting from the floor (28-for-56), the Rams finished with a season-high 19 assists. Malesevic led the team with seven, but Powell also chipped in five.
The Rams will look to win two in a row Saturday, as they play at Duquesne (7-16, 0-9 Atlantic 10) at 7 p.m. URI’s next home game is Wednesday, as they host Xavier (14-9, 7-3 Atlantic 10) at 7 p.m.