Rhode Island rebounded at home with an 81-68 victory against the Saint Louis Billikens after a tough loss against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. The Rams (17-6, 9-3 Atlantic 10) forced 22 turnovers against the Billikens and had a great performance from Jared Terrell who had a career-high 23 points. The victory allows Rhode Island to remain atop the Atlantic 10 conference standings with Dayton and Virginia Commonwealth.
Saint Louis (10-15, 2-10 Atlantic 10) got a career-high 21 points from guard Miles Reynolds, but it was not enough as the Billikens made numerous mistakes. This was their third straight game committing 19 or more turnovers. This has been a major concern for the young Bills team. Another concern is the offensive production for this young team as they struggle to find their rhythm on that end of the floor.
After the Billikens opened the game on two 3-pointers, Rhode Island locked down on the defensive end and forced 3 turnovers against the Billikens. The Rams pressure defense confused the young Bills team and sparked a 10-0 run for Rhode Island. Guard Hassan Martin, who was coming off a left knee strain, made two key mid-range jumpers during this run and brought a lot of energy during this run. That run gave the Rams a 12-6 lead after the first media timeout.
Rhode Island extended its lead to double-digits on free throws. However, Saint Louis showed its resiliency after going down 14 points. The Billikens aggressively attacked the Rhode Island defense by slashing into the lane with guards Miles Reynolds and Davell Roby. Reynolds and Roby drew a lot of fouls and converted their free throws.
Reynolds went 11-13 from the foul line in the first half. His free throw shooting kept SLU in it as they went nearly 11 minutes without making a field goal after the first media timeout. Along with Rhode Island going cold for a stretch, the free throw shooting allowed the Billikens to pull within 4 points, 28-24, with 5:46 left in the first half.
The Rams responded to the Bills run with another run. They closed out the half on an 11-4 run thanks to Jared Terrell. Terrell slashed into the lane and made buckets on defensive breakdowns by the Billikens. His aggressive play reclaimed a double-digit lead for the Rams going into halftime. The Rams held a 46-34 lead at half.
Rhode Island extended its lead to 20 points in the second half as Terrell slashed into the lane and Martin continued to knock down mid-range jumpers for the Rams. The Rams looked very strong after coming off a tough loss against Saint Joseph’s and had much better energy during this game.
Saint Louis struggled in the second half expect for a brief stretch where they went on a 14-4 run. The Billikens got 6 straight points from Forward Reggie Agbeko when Rhode Island had some poor defensive switches putting guards E.C. Matthews and Terrell on the 6-8 forward. Agbeko’s stretch cut the Rams lead down to 10 points, but the Rams regrouped after URI’s Head Coach Dan Hurley called timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Rams rallied getting a 6-0 spurt to seal the victory. First, Terrell and Matthews got tough layups to increase the Rams lead up to 14 points. This forced SLU to call a timeout to attempt to undercut the Rams momentum. However, on the next possession, URI Center Gilvydas Biruta stole the ball away from SLU’s Austin Gillmann and on the breakaway, dunked the ball to end SLU’s chances of a comeback.
Due to a snowstorm in Rhode Island, the Billikens are traveling straight to Richmond, Virginia for their next game against VCU. Saint Louis will play VCU on Tuesday, Feb. 17th at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. While Rhode Island will remain at home to take on UMass on Wednesday, Feb. 18th at 7 p.m. eastern time.