College Basketball: URI wins Exhibition Opener over Southern Connecticut
Friday, November 01, 2013
It wasn't a pretty start, but the end result is still a win for the Rhode Island Rams Men's Basketball team. After a slow start against Division 2 Southern Connecticut, the Rams used a 32-13 run in the 2nd half to surge past the Owls and cruise to a 93-77 win in Kingston.
Trailing 46-43 early in the 2nd half, the Rams began employing smaller, faster lineups and saw improved production on both ends of the floor. By the midway point in the half, URI had raced to a 75-59 lead and nursed that lead comfortably for the rest of the game.
Xavier Munford led the way scoring-wise for Rhody and tallied 18 points. 3 other Rams finished in double figures, including a pair of freshmen. Hassan Martin scored 14 points and E.C. Matthews added 13. Gilvydas Biruta (a junior transfer from Rutgers) finished with a double-double, registering 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Greg Langston had 21 points for the Owls to lead all scorers, and Michael Mallory added 19 for the visitors. Southern Connecticut left a lot of points off the scoreboard throughout the game, however, finishing 16-34 (47%) from the free throw line.
URI controlled the backboards all night, out-rebounding Southern Connecticut 61-37. In addition to Biruta, Jarelle Reischel grabbed 9 rebounds and Mike Aaman secured 8 of his own for the Rams.
The game was ugly early on, with both teams committing a lot of turnovers and taking forced shots in the first half. After 20 minutes of nerves and rust, the Owls held the halftime lead 42-41.
Both halves featured an inordinate amount of fouls and caused the game to drag on over two hours despite not having any TV timeouts. URI Head Coach Dan Hurley expressed frustration with the officials throughout the game and reiterated his feelings in his post-game press conference.
“I don’t know what a foul is on the perimeter,” Hurley said. “I just don’t know.”
This year the NCAA is asking officials to call more hand-checking fouls and force defenders to use their feet more than their hands. The result was a whopping 56 personal fouls called on Friday night, 28 on each team.
Hurley also picked up a technical foul in the 2nd half after Matthews was called for traveling. Hurley barked at an official and got “T’d up.”
“I was just responding to an official talking to my bench when I wasn’t engaged in a conversation with him,” Hurley said. The coach added that he never received an explanation for the technical call.
A scary moment came late in the 2nd half when Biruta dove into the Rhody bench trying to save a ball from going out of bounds. He came up holding his ankle and grimacing in pain and was immediately attended to by team trainers.
“That’s what you get with Gil,” said Hurley. “He plays so hard that he puts himself in harm’s way sometimes.”
Hurley said he thinks Biruta’s status will be day-to-day. URI’s regular season opener is next Friday at home against Maine.