The URI Rams overcame an anemic first half effort hold off Sacred Heart for a 72-62 victory Tuesday night at the Ryan Center.
Sacred Heart came out firing as they led 31-29 behind the hot hand of Tyler Thomas. He had 15 of his game-high 30 points in the opening half.
Thomas made his first two 3-point attempts in the second half, as the game remained close. Watson hit a jumper with 15:41 remaining to put Sacred Heart up 42-41. Rhode Island responded with seven straight points, as Makhel Mitchell and Ishmael Leggett sandwiched layups around an Ishmael El-Amin 3-pointer. The spurt put Rhody up 47-41, and the Rams never relinquished the lead.
Though URI never gave up the lead, Sacred Heart stayed in the game. However, the defensive work of Malik Martin on Thomas kept the Pioneers at an arm’s length. After he made his first two shots of the second half, Thomas did not score again until 6:33 remained. While he finished with 15 second-half points, six came in the final minute, when the outcome had been determined.
With Martin holding Thomas in check, the balanced Rhody offense went to work. El-Amin scored all 11 of his points after the break, and Makhel Mitchell added 10 in the second half. Leggett added eight as the Rams steadily pulled away down the stretch.