URI’s Mahkel Mitchell protects the rim vs. South Florida. (Photo courtesy Johnnie Izquierdo)
By KEVIN McNAMARA
As the final minutes ticked off the game clock at Mohegan Sun Saturday night, you could see the relief on the faces of the Rhode Island Rams basketball team.
Actually, you couldn’t miss it.
Led by Antwan Walker and assisted by several others teammates, the Rams took to strutting in celebration of a 84-68 win over South Florida. After failing to close out season-opening losses to Arizona State and Boston College, the Rams (1-2) closed the door nicely in this one.
URI blew out to a 36-20 halftime lead but its advantage melted to 63-53 inside of eight minutes left. However, a balanced attack led by star guard Fatts Russell (15 points) was too much for the Bulls (1-1).
*Fatts Russell: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
*Jalen Carey: 12 points, 5 rebounds
*Jeremy Sheppard: 11 points, 5 assists
*David Cox went with a slightly different starting 5 of Fatts Russell-Jeremy Sheppard-Malik Martin-Antwan Walker-Makhel Mitchell. The group helped give the Rams a strong start of 10-2 and led to a dominating 26-12 start.
*Rhody dominated with its defense in the first half. South Florida was held to just 20 points on 6-of-28 shooting. The Bulls managed just six assists on the night.
*Jermaine Harris entered the game at the 16:52 mark of the second half for his first action of the season. The junior big man missed the opening two games of the season with a foot injury and his absence was certainly felt. He’s further ahead than Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, the transfers from Maryland who struggled in the first two games. Harris hit one of his team’s four three-pointers and finished with six points in 11 minutes.
*The Rams continue to foul way too much (25 times) and gave up 18 points at the free throw line but they were aggressive on offense as well and made the Bulls pay. URI finished the game an impressive 30-of-35 (85.7 percent) from the free throw line.
NEXT UP: Rhody’s fourth game in five days at Mohegan Sun’s Bubbleville wraps up with a Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off game against San Francisco on Sunday (ESPN2). The game tips at 5:30 p.m.