How It Happened:
Rhode Island withstood the second half comeback attempt by La Salle to register win #20 and maintain at least a share of the top spot in the Atlantic 10 with a 59-56 win at Tom Gola Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Rhody (20-7; 12-4 A-10) held the lead for much of the first half, after a traditional three-point play by T.J. Buchanan at the 16:11 mark put the Rams up for the rest of the period. Solid shooting and a defensive mindset helped build as much as a 13-point advantage. URI connected on 51.7% (15-29 FG) of its shots, while holding La Salle to just 37.5% (9-24) and 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.
URI started the second half with a 3-pointer by Matthews and a jumper by Jarvis Garrett, building its largest lead of the game - 15 points - at 41-26 with 19:01 left. But La Salle would begin to chip away, going on a 12-4 run over the next 5:00 to cut it to seven (45-38).
A baseline dunk from Hassan Martin put the Rams up 10 (49-39) with 11:35 to play, before the Explorers again mounted a 13-4 run to make it a one-point game with 6:35 left in regulation (53-52). Matthews drilled a setback jumper on the next possession, marking the Rams' last FG of the game. URI's defense held La Salle without a FG for the last 3:54 and converted four free throws to seal its seventh road win of the season - sixth in A-10 play.
Inside the Box Score and Beyond:
* E.C. Matthews led Rhode Island with 21 points. The sophomore made 8-of-19 from the floor - including two 3-pointers. He also added four boards and two assists in 35 minutes.
* T.J. Buchanan came off the bench to score 12 points (5-6 FG), grab six boards, and dish out two assists. The Atlantic 10 6th Man of the Year candidate played 29 minutes.
* Gilvydas Biruta had 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists. The senior forward made 5-of-8 field goals on the afternoon.
* Hassan Martin added seven points and four boards. He was not credited with a blocked shot - ending a string of 21 straight games with at least one swat, dating back to the Santa Clara game on Nov. 26.
* Jared Terrell dished out a team-best four assists. The Rams had 13 assists on their 23 made field goals.
* The Rams held a 35-31 edge on the glass - including 12 offensive boards. Rhody also forced 12 turnovers, translating into 14 points.
Stat of the Game:
20 - Rhode Island registered its first overall 20 win season in four years (2010-11) and the first time URI reached the 20-win milestone in the regular season in six years (2008-09).
The Rams travel to Dayton on Tuesday, March 3 in a game that will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Fans can also tune into the Rhody Sports Network and B101 (101.5 FM) for the call, with Steve McDonald and Don Kaull.
Rhode Island Earns 20th Win; Maintains Share of First Place with 59-56 win at La Salle
How It Happened: