Rhode Island men's basketball nixes losing streak, downs La Salle at home; here's how

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Tyson Brown dived on the Ryan Center floor and earned a trip to the foul line.

A loose-ball foul called on La Salle, the 10th of the half, came on the gutsy offensive rebound by Brown. He connected on both free throws to extend the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball advantage to five points as the Rams survived on the hustle play.

Rhode Island (10-11, 4-4 Atlantic 10) then iced the game at the line to down the Explorers (11-10, 2-6), 71-69, on Wednesday night in front of 4,033.

“Clearly we did some things well enough tonight to win a conference game and, when you can win a conference game, it's a good feeling,” Rams coach Archie Miller said.

Related: Providence basketball prepares to face national powerhouse UConn and coach Dan Hurley

Here's more on how Rhode Island ended its losing streak:

Green lifts URI again

After pouring in a game-high 29 points in a losing effort against George Mason, Green entered off the bench with 11 minutes left and put the Rams ahead, 49-46, just a possession later.

URI forward David Green drives to the hoop against La Salle's Daeshon Shepherd.
URI forward David Green drives to the hoop against La Salle's Daeshon Shepherd.

Green, who scored a game-high 20 points, followed, after a shot clock violation by the Explorers, with another inside finish from Brown. Zek Montgomery then stole possession away and was fouled in transition before knocking down two free throws for a 6-0 spurt and a 53-46 lead with 8:30 left in regulation.

“This game, we had to work through it,” Miller said. “Our offense hurt us more than our defense to start the second half. We were able to kind of grind our way through it.”

Luis Kortright tallied 11 points as the Rams had contributions from 10 different players.

Green, averaging 15.1 over nine games this season, salted the contest away with four makes at the line.

Rams tighten defensively, but still have cracks

After starting January with three straight conference wins, the Rams dropped four in a row to fall to the bottom-half of the conference. They surrendered nearly 90 points per game over that stretch.

And to start against La Salle, the Rams allowed a trio of 3-pointers, the second off an offensive rebound, to trail, 11-3, five minutes into the contest.

“Without watching the film, my intuition, my gut, we started the game not ready,” Miller said. “We started the game very lethargic and they had five offensive rebounds in the first four minutes.”

URI guard Always Wright hooks a shot over La Salle's Anwar Gill.
URI guard Always Wright hooks a shot over La Salle's Anwar Gill.

With the Rams leading, 68-63, Khalil Brantley (19 points) forced his way inside 18 feet and pulled up, uncontested, for an easy jumper. With seven seconds left, Rhode Island let Jhamir Brickus (14 points) race coast-to-coast for an easy layup and a 70-68 deficit.

“The second half, it was just the inability to get a key stop to win the game,” Miller said.

“We're not there. And we'll continue to work hard to get better. I think the biggest thing is continuing to get back [on defense] and communicate.”

The second unit, primarily Brown, energized the group as La Salle shot 36.6% from the field (8-for-31 from beyond the arc) in the contest.

“Our defense isn't winning us the game,” Miller said. “There's probably enough stops tonight. We were able to make some key plays offensively. ... But from a defensive standpoint, I would say that if you watch the game, there was a lot of good looks that just didn't go in.”

Daeshon Shepherd chipped in 14 for the Explorers.

What's next

Rhode Island welcomes Duquesne (12-8, 2-5) to the Ryan Center on Saturday before hitting the road for a pair of away games next week.

On X: @ByJacobRousseau

LA SALLE (69): Jocius 4-9 0-2 8, Brantley 7-17 3-4 19, Brickus 4-13 4-4 14, Shepherd 6-11 1-4 14, Vahlberg Fasasi 1-7 1-2 4, Gill 2-7 0-2 4, Marrero 2-7 0-0 6. Totals: 26-71 9-18 69.

RHODE ISLAND (71): Fuchs 1-4 0-2 2, Green 7-13 4-8 20, Estevez 1-3 0-0 2, House 4-8 0-0 8, Kortright 4-6 2-3 11, Montgomery 1-7 4-4 6, Weston 0-4 5-6 5, Wright 2-3 0-0 5, Foumena 3-7 1-2 8, Brown 1-1 2-2 4. Totals: 24-56 18-27 71.

Halftime — Rhode Island 36-29. 3-point goals — La Salle 8-31 (Brantley 2-6, Marrero 2-6, Brickus 2-7, Shepherd 1-4, Vahlberg Fasasi 1-6, Gill 0-1, Jocius 0-1), Rhode Island 5-12 (Green 2-3, Kortright 1-1, Wright 1-1, Foumena 1-2, Fuchs 0-1, Montgomery 0-4). Fouled out — Gill. Rebounds — La Salle 32 (Jocius 13), Rhode Island 39 (Weston 6). Assists — La Salle 15 (Brickus 6), Rhode Island 13 (Montgomery 3). Total fouls — La Salle 17, Rhode Island 17.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Rhode Island men's basketball nixes losing streak, downs La Salle