KINGSTON – With a dismal 24.1 percent shooting performance from the field, the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team faded in the second half against Xavier, seeing a one-point halftime lead turn into a 55-42 loss on Wednesday night.
Despite getting a slew of open looks from 3-point range, the Rams could only hit five of their 30 attempts from the arc. Although URI (8-17, 3-9 Atlantic 10) did get 10 assists on its 13 baskets and only turned the ball over eight times, Xavier took advantage of trips to the line to surge past the Rams in the second half.
The Musketeers (15-10, 8-4 Atlantic 10) finished 17-for-24 from the line, and generally had their way in the paint for both halves. Six-foot-eight senior forward Travis Taylor finished with 13 points and 17 rebounds.
Although the Rams were outrebounded 45-29 to, head coach Danny Hurley pointed out that the discrepancy was mostly due to all of URI’s missed shots.
Both teams finished with just six offensive rebounds, and Xavier rebounded 39 of the Rams’ 41 misses. URI snagged 23 of Xavier’s 27 misses.
URI had chances to stay in the game in the second half, as Xavier didn’t open up a 10-point lead until 6:32 left. However, 3-point shots by Andre Malone, Xavier Munford, Nikola Malesevic and Mike Powell all rimmed out.
Munford led the Rams with 15 points, 12 of which came in the first half on 4-for-10 shooting. He finished the game shooting 1-for-7, hitting a single 3. The lines were similarly brutal for the other URI scoring options – Malesevic (0-for-8, four fouls), Malone (2-for-10) and Powell (3-for-11).
Mike Aaman was the only Ram to finish with a shooting percentage above .500, hitting both shots he took and shooting 4-for-5 from the free throw line. However, the freshman center lacked the quickness to cover Xavier’s big men, and picked up three fouls in just 14 minutes of play.
Unfortunately, St. Bonaventure (12-13, 5-7 Atlantic 10) picked up a win on Wednesday, all but eliminating the Rams from contention for the Atlantic 10 tournament. URI would need to win its remaining four games and hope for some help to make it to Brooklyn.
URI hosts the La Salle (18-6, 9-3 Atlantic 10) at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The Explorers are currently jostling with St. Louis, Butler, VCU and Xavier for positioning atop the conference, and a win for URI would tie as the most impressive victory of the year for the Rams, with their Jan. 19 upset at St. Louis, 82-80 in overtime.