URI Withers Late in 77-64 Loss to Southern Miss.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
KINGSTON, RI-- Southern Mississippi closed the game on a 13-2 run over the final 5:15, and URI’s 2nd half rally came up short as the Golden Eagles knocked off the Rams 77-64 Saturday at the Ryan Center.
USM led 35-34 at the half behind a 20-12 first half rebounding edge and a balanced offensive attack that saw 7 players make a field goal.
The second half was a game of runs. A 17-5 USM run early in the 2nd half put the Golden Eagles up by 12. A 9-0 Rams run between the 8 and 5 minute mark cut the lead to just 2 points, as URI made a furious rally and brought the Ryan Center crowd to life. The Golden Eagles weathered the storm, however, and ripped off a 11-0 run to bring the lead back to 13 points with just over a minute to go.
Four players scored between 12 and 14 points for USM, and the Golden Eagles dominated the boards all afternoon to the tune of 37-22. USM also scored 42 points in the paint to URI’s 18. Foul trouble played a role in the Golden Eagles’ ability to dominate inside, but URI Head Coach Dan Hurley said after the game that his worst fears regarding USM’s physical style of play came true Saturday.
“I think we had concerns coming into the game with the rebounding, which has been a positive for us to this point,” said Hurley.
Xavier Munford and E.C. Matthews scored 17 points apiece to pace the Rams. T.J. Buchanan added 10 points off the bench, but no one else scored more than 5 points for the home team on Saturday.
URI drops to 7-6 overall on the season. The team next plays Thursday at Brown. The Rams return home January 7th and open up Conference play against Saint Louis, last season’s Atlantic 10 regular season and conference champion.
--Sophomore big man Mike Aaman (out indefinitely) was on the bench again on Saturday and seemed to be in good spirits. URI continues to play with only 9 available scholarship players. Former Rams point guard Mike Powell is seeking a transfer and has been released from his scholarship, and sophomore big man Jordan Hare remains away from the team on a leave of absence.
--Hurley spoke highly of Hassan Martin postgame and expressed regret with taking him out of the game late in the 2nd half because of fatigue. Hurley said in hindsight he should have called a full timeout and tried to keep Martin in the game.
“We’ve seen what he’s going to do once his offense catches up. Both he and E.C. [Matthews] are a huge part of what we’re trying to put together here,” the coach said.
Hurley said he needed to lean on Martin a little bit more and that Martin and Matthews needed to play in the 30 minute range game in and game out. Hurley also hinted that Martin may have earned his way into a starting role in the very near future.
“For me, Hassan Martin is probably the hardest playing player on this team right now, and he’s an 18- year-old freshman,” said Hurley.