MHERST - Even with UMass starting center Micah Brand out of the lineup, Rhode Island didn't appear to be a team that could hurt the Minutemen on the boards.
The Rams' starting center last night at the Mullins Center, and tallest player in the rotation, was 6-foot-9 freshman Jon Clark, who entered the game averaging just 2.5 rebounds per game. Clark, however, finished as one of two URI players to haul down 10 boards. Sophomore forward Jamaal Wise, who stands 6-5, came off the bench to join Clark in the 10-rebound club.
The Rams dominated UMass underneath along the way to a 60-53 Atlantic 10 victory, making up for a poor shooting performance (21-for-62 from the floor, 34.4 percent) with a 44-31 rebounding advantage. Exactly half of the rebounds pulled down by the Rams (10-4, 2-1 A-10) came on the offensive end.
``We had out there guys who are not physical,'' coach Steve Lappas said of his Minutemen (6-9, 0-3). ``They out-physicalled us, there's no question.''
UMass senior power forward Jackie Rogers, averaging six rebounds per game and the most physical player on the team, found himself in foul trouble all game. He grabbed four rebounds in just 23 minutes. Sophomore Gabe Lee, who started for Brand (ankle), grabbed five rebounds, all on the defensive end.
UMass lost another starter in freshman shooting guard Mike Lasme, who sprained his ankle when URI's Dustin Hellenga dove into him early in the second half. Lasme was on the ground for five minutes and, although he walked off under his own power, did not return to the game.
``It was definitely hard putting together the pieces of the puzzle,'' UMass point guard Anthony Anderson said of playing without Brand and Lasme.
Trailing by three points, the Minutemen missed three wide-open 3-point attempts in their final two possessions and went scoreless in the game's final two minutes. Rogers (team-high 15 points) scored on a jump-hook to cut the URI lead to 54-53 with 2:07 left, but the Rams ended the game on a 6-0 run.
URI took its first lead since 2-0 when Marcel Momplaisir tipped in a Hellenga miss, giving the Rams a 46-45 advantage with 9:49 to play.
The Minutemen kept the game within five until the final basket, but led just once over the remainder of the contest.
URI came back from 14 points down early in the first half, tying the game up with a 14-0 run. Sophomore guard Dawan Robinson scored eight of the Rams points on the streak. Robinson led all scorers with 16 points.
UMass jumped all over the Rams early in the contest. Rogers scored six of UMass' first eight points and Lasme dished off three fast-break assists en route to a 20-6 lead nine minutes into the game.
But once URI slowed the game down, UMass struggled on offense. ``The game changed when the game became more halfcourt,'' Lappas said, after his team was unable to answer URI's 2-3 zone from behind the arc.
The Minutemen shot just 2-for-14 on 3-pointers. The team's inability to shoot the deep ball collapsed the zone on Rogers, who scored just two more points in the half.
UMass junior Raheim Lamb, who has seen little playing time since losing his starting spot to Jeff Viggiano (10 points) seven games ago, saw 21 minutes of action due to Brand's injury. Lamb also scored 10 points, on 5-of-7 shooting, and hauled down four rebounds in the loss.
|Player of the Game
|1/15 Rhode Island
MHERST, Mass. -- For years, Massachusetts was the king of the rock fight in the Atlantic 10.
Michael Lasme tries to keep up with Brian Woodward.
The times, though, they are a changing. The University of Rhode Island showed last night why it is a candidate for the refuse-to-lose title these days.
The Rams were the team with the grit and clutch plays down the stretch as they came from behind and beat the Minutemen, 60-53, before a quiet crowd of 3,125 at the Mullins Center.
Rhode Island survived one of its worst offensive nights of the season.
The Rams shot only 34 percent from the field. They were only 2-for-15 on 3-pointers. They went 28 minutes before they had a basket from outside 10 feet. In contining a pattern they have followed several times before on the road, they fell into a double-digit hole (20-6 nine minutes into the game), then buckled down and came back to win.
"We found a way," said Rhody coach Jim Baron. "I can't be more proud of how our guys hung in there."
What made this one even better for Baron and his team was that they had to dig deep to find the key to this one. Massachusetts played much of the way with a box-and-one on Rhody star Dustin Hellenga and held him to four points, on 2-for-10 shooting from the field. In the first half, Hellenga, Brian Woodward and Lazare Adingono, URI's top three scorers, were a combined 1-for-14 from the field and totaled three points.
"We had different guys step up tonight. That's the potential of this basketball team," Baron said. "Brian Woodward stepped up (11 second-half points to give him 14 for the night). Jamaal Wise having 10 rebounds. Jon Clark having 10 rebounds. Dawan Robinson having 16 points. We got other guys doing it."
The result upped Rhode Island's record in this improbable season to 10-4, 2-1 in the Atlantic 10. Massachusetts dropped to 6-9 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
URI needed its determination since Massachusetts dictated the pace of play for most of the night. The Minutemen, who hold opponents to 62 points, third-best in the A-10, rode a strong start by senior forward Jackie Rogers (15 points for the night despite foul problems) to a 20-6 lead after nine minutes of play. URI hit just two of its first 14 shots, both from in close by Clark. It was the same thing that happened against PC (a 15-2 deficit) and Yale (down, 12-0).
"We always start off like that. I don't know what to tell you," Robinson said. "We take what the team gives us. Once we see their best, we take that and crunch it."
"We've been there," Baron said of the early double-digit deficit. "Sometimes it's a little bit of a wake-up call . . . We keep fighting."
The Rams caught up quickly, running off 14 straight to tie it at 20. They fell behind again, though, and did not get the lead until Woodward gave them a huge boost early in the second half.
URI was down, 38-35, with 14 minutes left when Woodward provided the offensive spark his team needed. He hit two free throws. Then he drilled a 10-footer, and added URI's first 3-pointer of the night, from the left corner, pulling his team into a tie at 42.
"I hit a couple big shots. It gave the team momentum," Woodward said. "I got going and they got going."
Marcel Momplaisir's rebound basket put Rhody ahead, 44-42, and Robinson scored on a drive, putting URI ahead by four. Massachusetts briefly regained the lead, at 49-48, but Woodward was there again, with his team's second and final 3-pointer. That made it 51-49 with 4:58 remaining and, from there, URI simply refused to lose, as Massachusetts used to say.
UMass had only two baskets, both by Rogers, in the final six minutes. Adingono had a hoop off a pretty feed by Woodward, Robinson hit a pair of free throws, and Hellenga added a layup, off another assist by Robinson, to clinch it.
The Minutemen, who played without center Micah Brand (ankle sprain), lost two more players, Mike Lasme and Gabe Lee, with injuries in the second half.
URI is flying high heading into its game Sunday at the Ryan Center against Saint Joseph's, the hevy favorite to win the A-10 East Division title. It will be a monster hurdle for the Rams, but everyone is learning not to sell Rhody short.
"You saw the resolve of this basketball team. I can't be more proud of the way we played," Baron said.
MHERST, Mass. -- The URI players gave assistant coach Tyrone Weeks, a former UMass star, a big assist for their 60-53 victory over Massachusetts last night at the Mullins Center.
Jackie Rogers led the Minutemen with 15 points.
"I think what really got the team going was at halftime coach Weeks came in the locker room and just screamed on us," said Dawan Robinson, who led URI with 16 points. "We were laughing and we were down three . . . We all just looked inside ourselves and said he's right. What are we laughing about? We're down three."
Weeks has been known to get upset at the players before. So his outburst was not a total surprise. But this one was different.
"That one meant something. That one touched ground," Robinson said.
"We have a real good relationshp with our players," said URI coach Jim Baron. "My assistants have a good relationship. We try to challenge them as much as we can. Again it's new territory for all of our kids."
Weeks scored 1,013 points in his career for UMass. He has been tough on his alma mater as a coach. His combined record at URI and St. Bonvaventure as a coach is 6-2 against the Minutemen.
A-10 is flourishing
Linda Bruno was smiling as she walked into the Mullins Center, with good reason.
Bruno, the Atlantic 10 commissioner, usually is happy when she is at conference events, as she was last night for the URI-UMass game. But she is smiling more than ever these days because of what is happening on the basketball courts across the A-10.
What was expected to be a rebuilding season for the conference has turned into much more.
"We're really excited," Bruno said. "St. Joe's is really good. Xavier's good. Dayton's good, too. And everybody else is competitive, basically. We couldn't be happier right now."
St. Joseph's (10th), Xavier (16th) and Dayton (18th) all are in the top 20 in the most recent RPI Report (Jan. 13). The only conferences in the country with more in the top 20 are the SEC and Big 12 -- both with four. The A-10 is ninth overall in the power rankings.
"We went through a huge transition last year," Bruno pointed out. "We had six new head coaches. You can't discount what we went through last year as not meaning anything. We're still playing catch-up a little bit with some of our teams, but it's great what's happening.
"We have good coaches. I'm not just saying that," she continued. "We have good coaches who have done good recruiting. We have kids who want to play. We don't have super-stars necessarily, but we have kids who can get to the NBA, kids who do very well playing college basketball."
What makes it even better is that most teams are young. URI, UMass, La Salle and Temple all are relying heavily on freshmen and sophomores. The future looks even brighter.
Clark comes up big
On the way to its victory, URI received a boost from one of its freshmen, Jon Clark.
Clark, who had been struggling, was the biggest man on the court with the absence of Massachusetts center Micah Brand, who sprained his ankle in practice Monday and did not dress last night.
Clark, a 6-10 center, had the first two URI hoops of the night. He had six points and eight rebounds (four on the offensive boards) in 11 minutes of action in the first half. He finished with a career-high 10 rebounds.
In the second half, Marcel Momplaisir saw much of the playing time at center, and he picked up where Clark left off. Momplaisir had eight second-half points.
J.R. Moore, the 6-foot-9 forward who signed with URI in November, is averaging 9.2 points and 7.5 rebounds at Worcester Academy. . . . Baron and Steve Lappas, the UMass coach, were hired on the same day (March 26) two years ago. After last night, Lappas was 19-25 at UMass, Baron 18-24 at URI. Baron had been a strong candidate for the job at UMass before it went to Lappas.
MHERST, Mass. -- They fight.
Oh, how they fight.
Oh, how they scrap.
They keep coming at you.
Over and over and over again.
And they don't quit.
Never, never, never.
Anthony Anderson had another tough night from the floor, going 3-10.
Al the intangibles this Ram team has, the intangibles that now have them 10-4, one of the surprises of this college basketball season, this team that has risen from the wreckage of the last three years like some phoenix rising from the ashes.
For URI didn't figure to win here last night, even against a UMass team that came into last night's game 6-8, a UMass team that plays as if it's waiting for John Calipari to come back and make everything all right again. A UMass team that plays with too little scoring, too little toughness and no identity.
And that's the difference.
This Ram team has an identity.
It is tough, and it plays with a relentless energy, the kind of grit that camouflages a lot of their flaws. It plays defense like a pit bull attached to your leg, and it plays it the entire game, regardless of what the score is, regardless of how they are playing offensively.
That is their identity, and now they almost seem to wear it on their uniforms like some kind of merit badge. They may not always play well. They may not always play smart. There are going to be times when their lack of overall talent is going to doom them. But they're going to play hard.
Take the first half, for example. There were the Rams off to a start from Basketball Hell, down 20-6 on the road. There were the Rams shooting 33 percent for the first half, complete with their three high scorers -- Dustin Hellenga, Lazare Andingono, and Brian Woodward -- a combined 3-15 from the floor, and they were only down three. Think about that for a second. The Rams had had a horrible start, couldn't make a shot, and they were only down three.
It's a script we've seen several times already. Against the Friars in Providence. On the road at Iona. On the road against Yale. Get down early. Look bad in the process. Then somehow come fighting back, step by step, eventually to grab a game that seemed impossible to attain in the early minutes.
Call it a routine Ram win.
The kind of game they never would have won a year ago.
"It's all about will," said Jim Baron, as he walked off the court and went down the runway that headed towards the Rams' locker room. "Where there's a will there's a way."
Something that seemed to come right out of some celluloid fantasy?
But that's Baron, the blue-collar coach whose molded a team in his own image. There is nothing flashy about Baron, and you could see that last night, too. Two minutes into the game his sport jacket was off, his hair was mussed up and he was working the game as if he were in the trenches himself. As if he was going to transfer his will to his team, one way or the other.
And as the game progressed through the second half, somehow you knew the Rams were going to find a way to gut it out, even in this building that used to be one of the red-hot cauldrons of college basketball, back when Calipari was king, Marcus Camby lived in the middle of the Minutemen defense, and the cheers used to warm up all the cold winter nights. Back when beating UMass in the Mullin Center was one of the more difficult things to do in college basketball.
But those cheers are gone, as if the circus left town and all the excitement went with it. Now, UMass is just another team for the taking, even here in Amherst.
Which is exactly what the Rams did.
Not in the least.
But so what?
It's not easy to win on the road in college basketball. It's not easy to go into someone else's building and impose your will on the other team. It's not easy to be on the road in a close game and tough it out down the stretch. But that's what the Rams did last night. They out-rebounded UMass. They out-toughed them. They won a game when they seemingly couldn't make a shot, a game in which they only shot 34 percent. But once again they gave a dramatic statement that this is a new era for URI basketball, one that's only going to get better.
"I can't be more proud of the way our guys hung in there," Baron said. "You saw the resolve of this basketball team."
Yes, we did.
We'll worry about them later.
MHERST - With 1 minute and 16 seconds remaining and the University of Massachusetts trailing Rhode Island by three, Anthony Anderson's 3-point attempt from the top of the key went in and out. The Minutemen controlled the rebound and got the ball to Jeff Viggiano in the corner.
His 3 missed and UMass was forced to foul. Marcel Momplaisir kept the Minutemen in striking distance, missing both free throws. But with the clock winding down, Raheim Lamb missed an open 3 and UMass was forced to foul again.
Dawan Robinson made both free throws to clinch the win. Dustin Hellenga added a breakaway layup to give the Rams a 60-53 win at the Mullins Center.
"We got three really good looks from 3, but we didn't make them and that's what happens," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "We had chances, but we didn't get it done."
The Minutemen (6-9, 0-3 A-10), who were already missing senior Micah Brand due to an ankle injury, lost freshman guard Mike Lasme to a sprained ankle. They'll play host to Xavier Saturday at 6 p.m.
"Losing Micah ... that's points and Mike is points," Anderson said. "It was definitely hard fitting pieces of the puzzle without those guys there."
Jackie Rogers looks for help through the Ram defense.
UMass shut down Hellenga, URI's leading scorer, with a Viggiano box-and-one, which held him to just four points. But several teammates made up for his offensive absence for the Rams (10-4, 2-1 A-10).
Robinson led Rhody with 16 points off the bench, while Brian Woodward scored 14. Jamal Wise and Jon Clark each had 10 rebounds.
"I couldn't be more proud of the way our guys hung in there," URI coach Jim Baron said. "That's the potential of this basketball team. We had different guys step up tonight."
With Brand out and Rogers in foul trouble, Rhode Island dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Minutemen 44-31.
In his first career start, UMass 205-pound big man Gabe Lee was pushed around by the Rams' heavier front line. He struggled offensively, missing 4-of-5 shots. But he grabbed five rebounds and matched a career high with five blocked shots.
The Minutemen were impressive out of the gate. Rogers scored six of their first eight points as Rhode Island struggled to shoot. An Anthony Anderson 3-pointer put UMass ahead 20-6 with 11:09 left in the half.
The Minutemen had scored some transition baskets against the Rams' press, but when Rhody dropped back and forced UMass to score in the halfcourt, scoring was more difficult, especially with Rogers on the bench.
The lead disappeared quickly as the Rams scored the next 14 points, creating a battle the rest of the game. Starting with a Lasme 3, UMass stretched the lead back to seven, but Rhody cut it to three at halftime and nearly tied the game. Woodward's shot from the opposite foul line banked in, but it was released too late.
Lasme's injury only further URI's momentum, eliminating another scoring option from a team already without Brand.
A Woodward 3-pointer tied the game at 42-42 with 12 minutes left.
Rhode Island held the lead most of the second half. UMass regained it briefly on an Anderson fast-break layup that made it 49-48 with 6:14 to play, but Woodward buried an open 3 that put the Rams ahead.
Lamb thought the Minutemen would bounce back.
"We know everytime we step on the court we're going to play hard," Lamb said. "Things just haven't gone our way. We just have to keep our head up."
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MHERST - University of Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas' pool of available players continued to diminish as freshman guard Mike Lasme and sophomore big man Gabe Lee both left the game with injuries.
Gabe Lee battles for the loose ball with Dawan Robinson.
"He's hurt. He might not be able to play Saturday," Lappas said.
Sophomore guard Kyle Wilson left the team last week and announced he was transferring. Senior big man Micah Brand was already out with a sprained right ankle, leaving Lappas with an already thin bench.
It got thinner 2 minutes, 1 second into the second half when Lasme was bumped while chasing a loose ball and landed awkwardly on his right foot. He headed to the locker room with team doctor Pierre Rouzier. He was later diagnosed as having a sprained ankle. He returned to the bench but not to the court.
Lasme also suffered an injury to his right (shooting) wrist in the first half, an ailment that worried Lappas.
"I think we're more concerned about the wrist than the ankle," Lappas said. "He fell on (the wrist) during the game.
With 2:41 left in the game and the Minutemen trailing 54-51, Lee jumped to block Marcel Momplaisir's shot, but he too came down awkwardly causing the cramp. He spent several minutes on the floor in obvious discomfort at the training staff examined his lower left leg. He did not return to the game.
Lappas was skeptical that Brand, who is on crutches after spraining his ankle Monday, would be ready either.
"He was barely hobbling around (Wednesday)," Lappas said. "With a game on Saturday, I doubt he would play. Based on the way he was walking today, I doubt it, but I wouldn't rule it out."
Anthony Anderson tries to power his way to the hoop.
"You don't have bodies now. There's no way Mike Lasme is going to be able to practice now and obviously there is no way Micah Brand is practicing. We can do very little," Lappas said.
UMass does get one addition to practice as Stephen Briggs, who was reinstated to the team late last week, is scheduled to begin practicing Friday.
FREE THROWS - The Minutemen continued to struggle from the free-throw line, making just 7-of-14 attempts.
WINNING FOR WEEKS - Trailing at halftime, former Minuteman standout forward Tyrone Weeks, who is now an assistant coach with the Rams, implored his charges to rally against his alma mater.
"At halftime, Coach Weeks came in the locker room and screamed on us," sophomore guard Dawan Robinson said. "We were laughing and we were down three. He made us look deep within ourselves and say he was right. We were down three. We shouldn't have been laughing."
"We talked before the game that we wanted to win this for Coach Weeks," senior guard Brian Woodward said.
KOUYATE SIGHTING - With Brand out and Rogers in foul trouble, freshman Alassane Kouyate played a career-high seven minutes, but didn't register anything else on the stat sheet.
"He didn't do much, but he didn't hurt us," Lappas said. "A kid like that, if he comes in for his first game, if he doesn't hurt you, you're happy. It was more positive than negative."
MISCELLANEOUS - The game marked the third time this season that the Minutemen have blown a double-digit lead in a defeat.
This was UMass' first loss at home to Rhody since Feb. 13, 1999, when current Georgia coach Jim Harrick was still at the helm.
Lamb's 10 points was the most he'd scored since opening the season with 17 against Indiana.
Under Lappas, UMass is now 0-15 when scoring 59 points or fewer and 19-10 when they 60 or more.
The Minutemen are 0-4 vs. New England opponents.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.
|Rhode Island Rams||60|
|at the Mullins Center|
Official Basketball Box Score Rhode Island vs Massachusetts 01/15/03 7:00 p.m. at Amherst, MA (Mullins Center) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VISITORS: Rhode Island (10- 4, 2- 1) TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 13 ADINGONO,Lazare..... f 1-9 0-5 0-0 1 4 5 3 2 2 3 0 1 25 20 WOODWARD,Brian...... f 4-12 2-4 4-6 1 2 3 1 14 2 2 1 2 28 44 CLARK,Jon........... c 3-4 0-0 0-0 6 4 10 1 6 0 0 0 0 16 04 SMITH,Howard........ g 1-3 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 1 2 0 2 0 1 21 24 HELLENGA,Dustin..... g 2-10 0-2 0-1 3 3 6 3 4 2 1 0 1 32 02 HARMON,Bamfield..... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 05 ROBINSON,Dawan...... 5-10 0-3 6-7 1 4 5 3 16 2 1 0 2 28 32 WISE,Jamaal......... 2-8 0-0 4-6 7 3 10 1 8 0 0 0 0 23 42 MOMPLAISIR,Marcel... 3-4 0-0 2-4 3 0 3 3 8 0 0 1 0 24 TEAM................ 1 1 Totals.............. 21-61 2-15 16-24 22 22 44 16 60 8 10 2 7 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-33 33.3% 2nd Half: 10-28 35.7% Game: 34.4% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 0-9 0.0% 2nd Half: 2-6 33.3% Game: 13.3% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 5-6 83.3% 2nd Half: 11-18 61.1% Game: 66.7% 2,1
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Massachusetts ( 6- 9, 0- 3) TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 02 ROGERS,Jackie....... f 7-11 0-0 1-2 3 1 4 4 15 0 3 0 1 23 22 VIGGIANO,Jeff....... f 3-10 0-4 4-7 5 2 7 3 10 5 4 1 1 36 04 LEE,Gabe............ c 1-5 0-0 2-4 0 5 5 2 4 1 1 5 1 32 01 LASME,Michael....... g 2-4 1-2 0-0 0 3 3 2 5 3 0 0 1 19 12 ANDERSON,Anthony.... g 3-10 1-6 0-1 0 6 6 2 7 6 2 0 1 40 00 MARTIN,Brennan...... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 1 2 0 0 8 21 KOUYATE,Alassane.... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 34 LAMB,Raheim......... 5-7 0-1 0-0 1 2 3 4 10 0 1 0 2 21 50 COX,Marcus.......... 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 14 TEAM................ 1 1 Totals.............. 22-50 2-14 7-14 9 22 31 20 53 16 13 6 7 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-26 50.0% 2nd Half: 9-24 37.5% Game: 44.0% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-6 33.3% 2nd Half: 0-8 0.0% Game: 14.3% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 2-4 50.0% 2nd Half: 5-10 50.0% Game: 50.0% 3,2
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: John Cahill, Jeff Clark, Pat Driscoll Technical fouls: Rhode Island-None. Massachusetts-None. Attendance: 3125 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total Rhode Island.................. 27 33 - 60 Massachusetts................. 30 23 - 53