Providence, RI – The Providence College Friars defeated the Rhode Island Rams 59-50 in front of a sellout crowd of 12,997 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in a highly anticipated match-up between state rivals. The Friars kept URI at arm’s length for the majority of the night showcasing terrific defense and holding their opponent under 70 points for the sixth time in eight games. The Rams also played well on that side of the court, but on this night, their defense was just not good enough to win the game. They, too, have held opponents under 70 points five times already this season. Both teams struggled mightily offensively and the leading scorers for both teams were held well below their season averages. The Friars’ junior guard, Alpha Diallo, who was averaging 18.7 points per game entering the night, finished the night with five points, all from the charity stripe. Freshman guard A.J. Reeves, stepped up in his place and scored 15 points with three triples. Jeff Dowtin, the Rams’ junior guard, entered the game averaging 17.2 points per game, but on this night scored just 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Cyril Langevine, who averages better than 14 points and 11 rebounds, led Rhode Island with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He made 10-of-14 from the free throw line, as well.
The Friars were in control of the first half from the jump and held a 39-27 lead at the end of the first half. The game began with both teams exchanging two early baskets, highlighted by the Friars’ Reeves cutting backdoor and laying in a layup off a terrific pass from Diallo. Reeves then proceeded to back-to-back catch-and-shoot threes from the right corner to raise his early scoring tally to eight points. Rhode Island was able to hang around thanks to good minutes from Langevine, who showed terrific toughness in the paint, converting on two layups and making 3 of 4 free throw attempts. He also added a terrific chase down block, while showcasing his terrific athletic prowess. Isaiah Jackson with a pair of threes and Nate Watson with nine points and a number of nice moves on the block made sure to keep the Rams at arm’s length. Surprisingly, Providence’s Diallo was almost a non-factor, finishing with just two points 0-for-2 shooting. Rhode Island’s three-point shooting begged for improvement in the half, as the Rams made just 1-of-7 compared to 4-of-7 for the hosts.
Both teams struggled to make shots to begin the second half, with Reeves’ triple from the right corner on the first shot of the half being the only field goal in the first 6:45. During this long spell, both teams showcased how their length can affects the opposition. Players on both teams consistently got their hands in the passing lanes and used their length to affect shot selection. The Friars’ Jimmy Nichols Jr. was especially impactful, with two terrific blocks on Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell and Langevine. Later in the half, as the Rams attempted to cut the deficit to single digits, Providence’s Kalif Young added another block on a Langevine dunk attempt. On the other end, the Friars had a tough time going up against Langevine’s length, missing a number of shots in the paint. Over the last few minutes of the game, both teams showed their physicality on the offensive end of the floor and constantly drew shooting fouls. Over the final 4:28 alone, the teams attempted a combined 18 times, missing 15 shots.
The defensive abilities of both teams resulted in an offensive night that both teams would like to improve on. The visiting Rams shot just 17-of-57 from the field, while the Friars made 18-of-50 attempts. The Rams shot 11.1 percent (2 makes) from beyond the arc compared to the Friars’ 38.6 percent (5 makes). The struggles at the foul line were difficult to grasp in a tight situation. The visitors made just 14-of-26, while the hosts shot 18-of-30. Defensively the numbers were more encouraging. The Rams blocked two shots and stole the ball six times. The Friars recorded six blocks and four steals. Transition defense was impressive for both teams, as the Friars limited the Rams to just four points, while scoring only three themselves.
While Providence displayed good defense, much of URI’s offensive woes was the result of just not being able to make shots. The Rams are last in all of NCAA Division 1 in three-point shooting at 20.8 percent. Their guard Fatts Russell is also at the bottom of the individual three-point shooting statistics making just 7-of-43 (16.3 percent). Russell is shooting a paltry 23.6 percent from the field on a team-high 89 attempts.
With the win, the Friars improve to 6-2, while the Rams fall to 3-3.
This article was written by Nakav Boker, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout apprenticeship program. For information contact us and forward your resume.