After rolling past the Iona Gaels on Thursday in the First Round of the NIT, the University of Rhode Island Rams move on to face Stanford on Saturday, an opportunity to exact revenge for the epic loss (18 years ago to the day), that knocked Rhody from the tournament just shy of the 1997 Final Four.
The match up sends the third-seeded Rams (23-9) out west to Stanford's (20-13) Maple Pavillion for the Second Round pairing, that allows Rhode Island a shot at redemption for the epic collapse in St. Louis on March 22nd, 1997.
Watch URI's Epic Collapse in the Video Below
The following has been excerpted from a January column by WBOB Senior Editor, Kevin Aherne, entitled "It's Time to Buy into the Rams."
March 22, 1998. Precisely 59.3 seconds separated the University of Rhode Island Rams Men's Basketball Team from the history books. Leading the Stanford Cardinal 71-65 at St. Louis' Kiel Center, the Rams needed just one final efficient minute to land a berth at the Final Four in San Antonio. The Rams used each of those 59.3 seconds to self -destruct.
The Jim Harrick-led 1997-98 URI Rams amassed a 25-9 record -- good for second place in the Atlantic 10. They were selected as an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, the eight seed in the Midwest. After blowing out #9 Murray State, they bested Paul Pierce and the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks 80-75 in Oklahoma City. Rhode Island moved on to St. Louis, knocking off #13 Valparaiso en route to their fortuitous meeting with third-seeded Stanford.
After Stanford closed the gap to a single point, Senior guard Cuttino Mobley turned the ball over in their own zone, leading to a dunk and a foul for Stanford forward Mark Madsen. With the next possession, and trailing by a pair, the Rams turned the ball over once more, and leading to more free throws for the Cardinal.
Trailing 77-74, and with just five seconds remaining, the Rams were afforded a golden opportunity via Senior guard Tyson Wheeler. Fouled while attempting a three-pointer, Wheeler was awarded three free throws, and the opportunity to tie the game. He missed all three.
He choked. The Rams lost.
Support WBOB Sports