What was on the line tonight for URI was a chance to improve their seeding heading toward the Atlantic 10 tournament on leave the Ryan Center with a winning overall record. A late Rhode Island rally came up short in its final home game of the season, falling to Saint Louis 80-74 Wednesday night at the Ryan Center.
The Rams (14-14, 5-11 Atlantic 10) came out hot and pushed their lead to double-digits on a Makhel Mitchell dunk that made the score 30-20 URI with six minutes remaining in the first half. The Billikens erased the deficit however, closing the period on a 19-3 run that put them up by six (39-33) heading into the break.
SLU’s Yuri Collins – the NCAA’s assists leader – dished out seven first-half helpers, while the Rams combined for just six as a team.
The Billikens (20-10, 11-6 Atlantic 10) remained in control through much of the second half, pushing their lead to as many as 15 (58-43) after a 3-pointer by Gibson Jimerson with 13 minutes left to play. Rhode Island responded with a 16-3 run – keyed by seven consecutive points from Sebastian Thomas – to pull within two at 61-59.
The Rams continued to apply the pressure, eventually tying the score at 63-63 on a Malik Martin free throw with 7:05 on the clock. Jimerson then hit a trey for SLU – the team’s first field goal in more than six minutes – to put the Billikens up 66-63. Back-to-back layups by Martin and Sheppard later gave the Rams a 67-66 advantage, forcing Saint Louis to call a timeout with 5:30 remaining on the clock. The Billikens regrouped and held Rhody to just three field goals down the stretch, pulling away for the 80-74 win.