Allen Betrand (13 points) helps URI win at VCU
By KEVIN McNAMARA
Now that’s a win to smile about.
The Rhode Island Rams continued their recent run of success against VCU’s Rams Saturday at the Siegel Center, this time with a convincing 83-68 victory.
The win was all about a dominating second half. After battling to a 40-40 halftime count, Rhode Island blitzed the home team by a 43-28 count. Jeremy Sheppard returned home to Richmond and set his career high with 20 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. Fatts Russell led Rhody with 23 points, 13 coming on free throws. The little big man also snatched a game-high 9 rebounds.
URI improves to 6-6 overall and 3-2 in the Atlantic 10. The win was Rhody’s highest NET victory (VCU came in at 30th) of the season.
“It was a good and much-needed win,” said Ram coach David Cox. “Our guys came in locked in on the game plan. It’s another good win for us so we get out of Richmond with a split.”
Coming off a loss at Richmond where the team turned the ball over 19 times, Rhody clearly needed to clean up its ballhandling against a notoriously aggressive VCU club. Rhody once again lost the ball 19 times, but VCU flipped those miscues into just 12 points. Rhody, meanwhile, forced 16 turnovers and scored 21 points off of VCU’s mistakes.
Even so URI would go on to win its ninth game in 10 tries against VCU because of an uptick on defense. The 40-40 tie was a thing of the past due to a marked increase in defensive efficiency as Rhody limited the home team to 33 percent shooting in the second half.
“At the half we had 40 points and shot the ball really well. Offensively we were solid,” said Cox, who is now 5-1 versus VCU as URI’s head coach. “But I was really disappointed with our defense. We addressed that at the half and improved impressively in the second half.”
Sheppard was asked if URI played its best game of the season and quickly answered, “no. We still have a lot to work on. That was a big win for us and puts our record back at even (6-6). We can’t keep seeing our record going up and down so we have to string some (wins) together now.”
URI will look to build on the Quad 1 win at UMass on Wednesday and back at Ryan Center against George Mason next Saturday. Cox says he sees his team’s potential to continue growing and building off what was a challenging early part of the season.