“It’s good to be back home,” Rhode Island Head Coach David Cox said after URI’s 72-60 win over Middle Tennessee on Sunday.
In their last non-conference game of the regular season, and first home game since Nov. 28, Rhode Island impressed in front of 6,382 fans by fending off a resilient Blue Raiders team. Jeff Dowtin led the team with 17 points, and notched double figures for his 17th straight contest, dating back to last season.
“You’re talking about a guy who’s been the catalyst for the offense the last two years as far as distributing the basketball,” Cox said. “He’s always had the ability to score. Now is his time, and he’s taking full advantage of it.”
Heading into conference play, Dowtin has already notched 12 double-digit scoring games. He leads the team with 16.7 a game, ahead of Cyril Langevine and Fatts Russell.
But Dowtin didn’t get much help from Russell or Langevine on Sunday. Russell scored only 11 points, but dished out five assists and had two steals. Langevine had six points with five boards and two assists.
Instead, it was Freshman Dana Tate breaking out, with 15 points on 4-of-6 scoring. He was perfect on all three of his attempts from beyond the arc, mirroring his previous career game against Bucknell in Hawaii.
The Rams played their best basketball down the stretch. With just over 10 minutes to play, they trailed by seven points. For the remainder of the game, they went on a 26-3 run which included all of Langevine’s points and three field goals from Dowtin.
Despite forcing 16 turnovers, Rhody struggled defensively and traded baskets with the Blue Raiders for most of the game. They led 26-24 at the half and were constantly searching for ways to stop Antonio Green.
Green entered the game averaging 18.3 a game, and left with his seventh 20-point scoring outing of the season. He finished with a game-high 26, 13 in each half, shooting 5-for-9 from deep. The whole team was hot from three, connecting at an unreal 75.0 percent from deep in the first half. Rhody’s defense would figure it out, cooling down the Blue Raiders to finish 9-for-21 from three-point range.
Over their past few games, the Rams have looked promising heading into Atlantic-10 play. Although they dropped two of their three games in Hawaii, they made at least six threes in all of them (eight in two of them), something they hadn’t done since their opening night. Russell had two 20-point performances, including 26 in a loss to Bucknell. The freshmen combined for 31 points tonight, and Dowtin and Russell have reached double figures in six straight contests.
The Rams kick off A10 play with a road trip, taking on the preseason favorites at St. Louis on Jan. 6 before traveling to Richmond on Jan. 9. Rhode Island then returns to the Ryan Center for two straight home games against George Mason and St. Bonaventure.
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