CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP)—No. 25 Rhode Island wanted to prove that its addition to the rankings for the first time since 1998-99 was no fluke.
Will Daniels and Jimmy Baron scored 18 points each to lead Rhode Island to a 92-75 win over Eastern Michigan on Friday night in the Islander Invitational.
“This was our first game as a ranked team, so it was important that we win it,” Daniels said.
The Rams also got 16 points from Kahiem Seawright. Keith Cothran scored 16.
The muscular, 6-foot-8 Daniels did most of his damage inside for the Rams (12-1), who were playing their first game as a Top 25 team since the 1998-99 season. Baron scored from the outside, shooting 4-of-9 from 3-point range.
“I think we started to wear them down eventually,” Rhode Island coach Jim Baron said. “We started to run, which is what we do best, and then we were sharing the ball. Any time you can get 20 assists, then you know you’re doing a good job of moving the ball around.”
Zane Gray had 12 points for Eastern Michigan (4-5), which has lost four of its past five games. Carlos Medlock and Jesse Bunkley chipped in 10 apiece for the Eagles.
Rhode Island plays the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi-Georgia Southern winner in the tournament championship Saturday.
Eastern Michigan’s hot shooting from behind the arc kept the Eagles in the game for much of the first half. Rhode Island went into the half up 51-41, and Eastern Michigan never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Eastern Michigan’s hot shooting disappeared after halftime. After shooting nearly 54 percent from the field in the first half, the Eagles struggled to a 9-for-25 performance after the break.
“When you play a high potent team like that—and Rhode Island is a very good basketball team—you have to keep scoring,” Eastern Michigan coach Charles Ramsey said.