Monday, March 2, 2009

URI Defeats Duquesne, 73-71

The Rhody Rams are on fire now having won 6 games in a row and 10 of their last 11. They still have a very small chance of winning the A-10, but they would need Xavier to lose twice, which doesn't look very likely. I have to give the Rams credit though because they have done everything they need to do down the stretch to give themselves a chance at an at-large bid. If they fall short of winning the A-10 tournament, then it will probably come down to whether the committee is going to accept the Rams who do not have a great resume but definitely a winning one, or a team like Notre Dame who doesn't have the best record but beat better teams than URI. Should be interesting.

Here's the scoop on the game, via ProJo Sports:

The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team continues to do things the hard way. Aaron Jackson missed a 3-pointer as time expired yesterday afternoon, and the Rams held on for a 73-71 victory over Duquesne in front of 3,567 fans at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Kahiem Seawright scored 21 points and Keith Cothran added 20 points off the bench for Rhode Island (22-8, 11-4 Atlantic 10), which has won six consecutive games and 10 of 11. Jackson had 24 points to lead Duquesne (17-10, 8-6). The Rams moved into second place in the A-10, trailing only Xavier (11-3), and clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament with the victory. “It’s unbelievable,” Rhode Island coach Jim Baron said. “Our kids have done a great job of continuing to come together. This was a very good victory for us. Duquesne is much improved, and they’re a good basketball team.”

Rhode Island, which rallied from a six-point halftime deficit, led by 70-66 and had possession of the ball with one minute remaining. That’s when Jackson, a senior guard playing in his final home game, single-handedly tried to rally Duquesne. A steal and a layup by Jackson made it 70-68. Seawright scored and Cothran made one of two free throws to put Rhode Island ahead by five points before Jackson’s 3-pointer cut URI’s lead to 73-71 with six seconds left. Seawright then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Dukes a chance for a final shot. Rhode Island, which had two fouls to give, used them both before Duquesne inbounded the ball for the final time with 1.4 seconds left. Jackson, who was guarded by Rhode Island’s Lamonte Ulmer, took the pass and launched a 3-pointer, which bounced off the front rim.

“We expected (Jackson) to get the ball,” Baron said. “We thought he was going to use a ball screen, but he really didn’t have that much time. “We put a bigger guard on him, just thinking it would be a little tougher for him getting the shot off. He didn’t get a great look at the shot.” Jackson scored 16 of Duquesne’s final 20 points. “He’s going to get his points,” Baron said. “We knew it would be a hard-fought battle with him. He’s a tremendous player.”

It was the second consecutive game for Rhode Island decided on the final play. The Rams beat Dayton, 93-91 in overtime, last Wednesday on Marquis Jones’ layup at the buzzer. “It shows we’re resilient,” said senior point guard Jimmy Baron, who had 14 points yesterday. “People counted us out at the beginning of the year when we started 1-3 in conference play. We were losing those games by two, three points. We knew we could move forward and turn those kinds of games around in our favor.”

Added Cothran: “We’ve been buckling down at the end of game now. But we still need to make free throws in the final minutes. If we would have made our free throws, it wouldn’t have come down to that last shot.”

Seawright had six points during a 15-3 run that put the Rams ahead 60-54 with 11:33 left in the game. The Rams never trailed after their run, but Duquesne pulled within two points on three occasions before tying the game, 66-66, on Jackson’s basket with two minutes remaining.

A back-and-forth first half yesterday featured eight ties and three lead changes. Rhode Island’s biggest advantage came early, when it went ahead 10-4 behind a pair of 3-pointers from Baron and baskets from Will Martell and Seawright. After a 3-pointer and dunk from Cothran, who had 13 points in the first half, the Rams led by 32-27 with 4:04 left. But Duquesne finished the half with a 13-2 run, capped by a jumper from B.J. Monteiro with two seconds left, to go up 40-34 at the intermission.
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