La Salle Starters
Beslow, Alston, Cropper, Wells, Owens
How It Happened
No. 6 Rhode Island defeated No. 11 La Salle, 65-60, Thursday night to earn its first victory at the Atlantic 10 Championship in six years. With the win, the Rams advance to the quarterfinals to play No. 3 seed Duquesne.
Rhode Island (17-12) trailed 58-57 with 47 seconds to go when junior captain Tayra Melendez buried a 3-point basket from the top of the key. Melendez' first field goal of the game put the Rams up 60-58. On the ensuing La Salle possession, Melendez controlled a loose ball rebounds and alertly called time out while laying on the ground.
From there, the Rams made 5-for-6 from the free throw line as junior Symone Bullard, captain Brianna Thomas and senior Sydney Lewis helped Rhody put the game away at the free throw line.
The victory was Rhode Island's first in the tournament since March 6, 2009, when it upset George Washington, 62-58, in the opening round.
Inside the Box Score
- With 17 victories, Rhode Island has its biggest win total in 19 seasons, dating back to the 1995-96 team that went 21-8 and qualified for the NCAA Championship.
- The game featured eight lead changes and six ties, a typical back-and-forth affair between the Rams and Explorers. The two games earlier this season were decided by a combined three points.
- After going 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, the Rams were 6-for-7 from long range after the break. Seniors Teneka Whittaker and Sydney Lewis hit back-to-back 3-point shots to give the Rams their first lead of the second half, 45-39, with 7:23 to go.
- Freshman Charise Wilson scored 23 points, 15 of which came after halftime. With three 3-point baskets, she has second most in a single season in program history with 61. Wilson is five shy of the record of 66 set by Lindsey O'Neil (2000-01).
- Also scoring in double figures were Sydney Lewis (11), Samantha Tabakman (10) and Symone Bullard (10). Lewis and Tabakman combined to shoot 10-for-13 from the floor, while Bullard was 8-for-10 at the free throw line.
- Bullard also had four of Rhode Island's 10 assists.
- Brianna Thomas gave the Rams five points, all in the second half.
- Though both teams shot 40 percent or better in the first half, neither team hit a 3-point shot. Rhody shot 40.0 percent (10-for-25), but was 0-for-5 from deep, while La Salle shot 48.1 percent (13-for-27) and was 0-for-4 from the arc.
- With the victory, Rhode Island has 10 more wins than it had last season, making the Rams one of only eight schools in the country to improve by at least 10 wins from last season. The others are Ohio, Southern Illinois, Texas-Arlington, Kennesaw State, Eastern Tennessee State, Radford and UC Riverside.
Stat of the Game
16-for-20 – As a team, Rhode Island was 16-for-20 at the free throw line in the second half.
Rhode Island will play No. 3 seed Duquesne in the quarterfinal round Friday night at 7 p.m. During the regular season, the Rams split with the Dukes, winning 62-61 at home Jan. 3 and falling 60-50 at Duquesne on Feb. 22.
The game can be watched on the American Sports Network in the markets listed here. It also will be streamed on the Atlantic 10 Network.