Thursday, February 19, 2009

Keith Cothran's Career High 26 Points Lead URI To Victory Over UMass

Keith Cothran came up big for the Rams as they defeated UMass, 71-59, via ProJo Sports:

Some victories are sweeter than others, and the one the University of Rhode Island earned Wednesday night at the Mullins Center might be the most important yet for the Rams. It’s not just that URI won for the first time in five years, to the day, in the Mullins Center. It’s not that they rallied from 12 back to keep their hot streak alive with their seventh win in eight starts.

It was the way Rhode Island beat Massachusetts, 71-59, that made this one special. The Rams didn’t play their best. Their two co-captains, Jimmy Baron and Kahiem Seawright, were shut down and scored only six points each, 18 below their combined averages. Not only that, but Seawright injured his ankle and miss much of the second half.

But in a display of resiliency and determination, they fought back and rode a career night from Keith Cothran (26 points) and clutch play from everyone on the court in the final three minutes to a significant victory. "This is what a team is built on," Seawright said in wrapping up the night’s work. "Jimmy is going to get the best looks of the defense every night. I’m getting a lot of doubles. We need the third and fourth guys to step up."

Cothran was the guy who stepped way up Wednesday night. He carried the team on his back as he went 11-for-17, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers. "I was thinking in the hotel room that I was going to be real aggressive," Cothran said. "I wanted to just create havoc." Coach Jim Baron told him he would be needed, especially after watching film of UMass’ previous game, a loss at St. Bonaventure. "I saw what the Bonaventure guards did against these guys," Baron said. "Keith is a big guard like they have. He’s a kid that plays hard and creates problems."

Cothran had played excellently early in the season, when he was starting. Since injuring a knee nine games ago, he has come off the bench and hasn’t been as big a factor. Wednesday night, Baron got Cothran in the game early and kept him in. Cothran played 29 minutes and had three of URI’s nine steals in addition to his 26 points. URI is now 15-1 when Cothran scores at least 15.

Rhode Island needed someone to step up since the Rams shot only 29 percent in the first half. They fell behind right away and were down by as many as 31-19. They scored the last nine points of the half to get within three at the break. UMass had outrebounded URI and beaten the Rams to numerous loose balls in the first 20 minutes.

With Cothran leading the way, the second half belonged to the Rams. URI got its first lead at 38-37 on a free throw by Lamonte Ulmer with 12:44 left. It fell behind again, but Cothran drilled a 3-pointer to get his team back on top. UMass went up six before 3-pointers by Stevie Mejia and Cothran tied it at 49-49.

URI appeared to be in trouble, though, since it had to go nearly 10 minutes without Seawright, who sprained an ankle trying to draw a charge on UMass point guard Chris Lowe. Lowe, who killed URI badly in two UMass victories last season, had 15 points and five assists. But, hounded by Marquis Jones and Mejia, he also had nine turnovers.

The score was tied for the last time at 57-57 with 2:40 left. Seawright returned and made two foul shots to start a 14-2 run the rest of the way that won it for URI. Cothran had two hoops in the run and Baron, who attempted (and missed) only two 3-point shots all night, made four free throws to help salt away the decision.
After reading this article, you might think UMass was a powerhouse this season. In actuality, they are pretty damn bad. They have a 9-15 record and rank 136th in offensive efficiency and 155th in defensive efficiency. Again this is just a case of URI beating a team they should beat. By winning, they avoid disaster, but do not gain much else from the victory as far as their NCAA hopes go. The good news for the Rams is that they have now one 7 of their last 8 games and if they win their last 4 as well then that would make it 11 of 12, which is quite a hot streak. The committee usually looks favorably on teams that finish the season on hot streaks like that and it could help them sneak in with an automatic bid if they continue to play well in the A-10 Tournament.

More: URI

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