KINGSTON – The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team awoke from a deep shooting slump just enough in the second half to pull away from the Brown Bears, 59-47, on Friday night.
Xavier Munford scored 14 of his 18 in the second half, finishing with the team and game-high. The Bears fouled liberally down the stretch, which allowed Rhody guard Mike Powell to finish with 16 points, 9-of-12 from the line.
The teams crawled out to a 21-14 football score at the half, with URI (5-8) holding the advantage. Except for a brief stretch in the second half that Munford dominated, and the final three minutes as Brown (4-8) gave fouls, neither team got into much of a rhythm.
At the half, Brown was shooting 25 percent from the field. This dipped as low as 20 percent into the second half, before the Bears managed to hit seven of their 16 field goals in the game’s last four minutes. Brown started the game 0-for-12 from 3-point range, and finished 4-for-17. URI’s largest lead was 18 in the second half.
Even the final score was somewhat deceptive, as Brown did force the tempo in the game’s final four minutes. URI scored 16 points in that time frame, almost all of them on free throws and two alley-oops to freshman Jordan Hare, who was left mostly unguarded as Brown pressed.
Matt Sullivan led Brown with 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting, followed by 10 from Sean Mcgonagill (4-for-15). Rafael Maia had eight points and 15 rebounds, but struggled from the free throw line, shooting 4-for-10.
In the first half, it looked like Brown hoped to wear down the Rams’ interior players. Ryan Brooks, Nikola Malesevic, Jordan Hare and Mike Aaman all picked up two fouls, limiting their time at various points. Malesevic in particular struggled, missing all nine shots he took, including three open 3s.
However, the Rams only committed eight fouls in the second half. Brooks finished with a team-high nine rebounds, and URI finished with 48, a vast improvement over the 17 grabbed in an 82-59 loss to St. Mary’s, the previous Rams’ game.
URI starts its Atlantic 10 conference play with its next game, as the Rams play at Richmond (10-5). Tip-off is 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9. URI hosts Charlotte (12-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12.
Brown hosts Niagara (6-7) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8. The Bears then host Division III Daniel Webster at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, before starting Ivy League play by hosting Yale (5-10) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19.