URI lost to Davidson 75-66 Friday night at the Ryan Center.
How it happened: Davidson hit two early 3s for the lead. URI stayed close for much of the rest of the first half before a drought of almost three minutes by the Rams set the Wildcats up for four straight points and a nine-point lead. Fatts Russell hit what looked like a momentum building 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half, but Davidson’s Jon Axel Gudmundsson snatched it back in cruel fashion, drilling a half-court shot at the buzzer. Needing a strong start to the second half to get back in the game, URI instead gave up a 9-2 run. The Rams managed to keep Davidson from pulling away and had a few chances to get close, but the Wildcats’ lead was never in serious jeopardy. URI cut it to eight on consecutive 3s by Tyrese Martin and Jeff Dowtin with 2:02 left but followed with two empty trips.
What it means: If the blowout loss to VCU Tuesday was the bottom for URI, perhaps the Rams moved one rung up in this one. There’s still a long way to go and it’s still a fifth straight loss - and seventh in eight games - but effort and execution were a tick better tonight. And the Rams kept coming late, which they hadn’t done in a few recent games. Ultimately, URI needs to get back in the win column to really start climbing.
On target Cats: Davidson shot a scorching 61 percent from the field, the second-best mark by a URI opponent this year, with Dayton still in the top spot. The Wildcats did a lot of their damage from deep, making nine of 13 3-point attempts, by far the best percentage for a URI foe this season. While URI did some things right tonight, it was going to be tough to beat Davidson on a night when the Wildcats shot it like this. URI again didn’t get the defensive performance it needed.
Second try: How exactly does a team that shoots 38 percent lose by only nine to a team that shoots 61? Offensive rebounding. URI grabbed 15 boards at the offensive end and turned those into 19 second-chance points. Davidson, meanwhile, had one offensive rebound. That set URI up to take a whopping 20 more shots than the Wildcats.
Triple Axel: Davidson’s Jon Axel Gudmundsson recorded just the second triple-double in Ryan Center history, joining the feat achieved by URI’s Delroy James in 2011. Perhaps the player of the year frontrunner in the conference, Gudmundsson certainly looked the part. He finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
At the buzzer: The sequence at the end of the first half epitomized the way things are going these days for the Rams. Fatts Russell drilled a 3 that made it a 6-point game. The difference between six and nine - especially with the way the Wildcats got to nine - was big.
Big spots: That stretch was a throw-your-heads-up moment for the Rams, but there were other key sequences where they just didn’t come through. At one point in the first half, on a 4-0 spurt, the Rams got a defensive rebound and threw away the outlet pass. Gudmundsson then buried a 3. Early in the second half, needing a run, the Rams gave one up instead. And late in the game, though the odds were probably long anyway, URI missed two shots and committed a turnover when it was an eight-point game.
Steady inside: Cyril Langevine tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds, eight of which came at the offensive end. It was his 15th double-double of the season and his fifth in a row.
A few more: URI’s seven 3s were the most since the Duquesne game on Jan. 30. The Rams hit 7 of 19.
Quotable: “I thought we fought. I thought offensively, we were a little bit better today. We knocked down some shots. We just didn’t have enough. I told the guys at the end, ‘We don’t accept moral victories at all,’ but I wanted to let them know that I was proud of their effort for an entire 40 minutes. That’s something we haven’t done the last few outings. I think that bodes well for us moving forward.” - David Cox.
Next: URI hosts George Washington on Tuesday.