For much of the first half, you’d never have known URI was a double-digit favorite to best A-10 rival La Salle. The Rams came out flat for much of the first 20 minutes of the contest, but an inspired second-half defensive effort helped Rhode Island edge past La Salle in the final minute to secure a 56-54 win at the Ryan Center
The Rams (12-4, 3-1 Atlantic 10) got the go-ahead basket on a drive by Ishmael Leggett with 23 seconds to go. La Salle (6-9, 1-4 A-10) had three shots in a frantic final 11 seconds, but a layup and two 3-point shots fell off as URI survived for its third straight victory.
La Salle scored 11 points off eight Rhode Island turnovers to help build a 35-27 lead by halftime. The Rams came out with a new energy to open the second half, forcing six turnovers in the first six minutes of the second half, opening the period on a 10-2 run to tie the game on a Makhel Mitchell layup from Leggett.
Though Rhode Island had the momentum, La Salle never went away. The teams were never separated by more than three points and the score was tied six times over the final 14 minutes before Leggett’s game winner.