Jeremy Sheppard and the Rams fell at Richmond Wednesday. (Photo:Drew Adames/URI Athletics)
By KEVIN McNAMARA
One step forward, one step back.
The inconsistencies of the Rhode Island Rams continued at Richmond Wednesday in a frustrating 80-73 loss. The defeat snapped a two-game winning streak.
The Rams are now 5-6 overall on the season and 2-2 in the Atlantic 10. It’s been a season of promise, yet mistakes. That was certainly the case in this matchup against a veteran team that’s expected to contend for the A-10 title.
Rhody turned the ball over a whopping 19 times. The Spiders (8-3, 2-1) took advantage by cashing those mistakes into 20 points.
“It’s been frustrating,” said coach David Cox. “If we continue along those lines (with the turnovers) it’s going to be a long year.
URI now has 59 turnovers in its last three games. Antwan Walker and Jeremy Sheppard totaled four apiece in this game.
“Many are just random turnovers,” Cox said. “They weren’t necessarily caused by Richmond’s defense.”
The veteran foursome of Jacob Gilyard, Grant Golden, Blake Francis and Nathan Cayo showed up for Richmond. Gilyard was outstanding, draining six threes and finishing with a game-high 22 points and also recording five steals. Golden, one of the better big men in the country, delivered 17 points and 9 rebounds. Francis (15 points), Cayo (14) and freshman Tyler Burton (11) made it five Spiders in double figures.
That group played with the consistency that Rhody lacked. With the exception of two brief lead changes for 43 seconds, the home team led the entire game.
I thought we competed but we just didn’t have enough tonight,” Cox said. “Those guys shot the cover off the ball but if you turn the ball over 19 times on the road you deserve to lose.”
Richmond jumped out quick and led 15-8 early. The Rams had major issues scoring and Richmond found its way to the foul line too often. Even so the Spiders clung to only a 35-34 lead at the half.
The Rams came out of the half shooting much better, receiving a spark from Jeremy Sheppard (11 points).
The Rams closed to 59-57 after a Fatts Russell steal and layup but 3-pointers from Francis and Gilyard helped open a 67-59 lead. Rhody closed to 69-66 after two slick Russell assists but that was it for the visitors. Two hoops from Burton and a killer 3-ball from Gilyard from deep in the corner was a dagger.
Russell finished with 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Antwan Walker added 12 points and the Rams bounced back to shoot 52 percent for the game.
Cox said the game was not at risk of getting postponed due to the riots in Washington, D.C. URI’s team will remain in Richmond and play at VCU this weekend.