Rhode Island rallied in the second half, battling back from 11 points down to overtake and finally put away Saint Joseph’s 90-87 in an Atlantic 10 semifinal match-up. Senior forward Andre Berry led the way with 18 points, one of five double-figure scorers in a balanced Ram scoring attack.
It was an uphill climb most of the way, as Saint Joseph’s came out strong and dictated play with effective dribble penetration and inspired offense which had Rhode Island back-peddling and reactive through much of the first half. The Hawks took a 47-40 lead into the break and extended it to 11 points, 51-40, with 18:51 in the second half before the Rams would begin their gradual ascension.
Old fashioned perseverance and perimeter shooting, which abandoned the Rams only two weeks ago in a senior night loss, helped fuel them in this comeback, with 14-31 makes from three-point range (45.2%), all of which were needed. Point guard Jeff Dowtin registered a double-double, with 16 points and 10 assists — while chipping in six boards for good measure. E.C. Matthews (14), Fatts Russell (14) and Jared Terrell (13) rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Rams.
With the win, the Rams advance to their second straight Atlantic 10 Championship game and will face Bob McKillop’s Davidson Wildcats for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Another trophy – and perhaps a seed line in the bracket – are on the line.