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Rhode Island tightens grip on A-10, runs past Saint Bonaventure

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Rhode Island vs Creighton Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of day, Saint Bonaventure simply couldn’t overcome simple math.

In a game packed with quality guards, it was Rhode Island’s backcourt depth that led it to an 87-73 win over the Bonnies and their two star guards. The Rams had five players score in double digits in a balanced effort.

E.C. Matthews (20 points, 9 rebounds) helped spur a 16-3 URI run out of halftime, which created separation in what had been a 42-39 game at the break. The Bonnies would whittle the lead down, but never got within single digits.

The Rams were able to keep a quality SBU team at bay by being on the attack throughout the game. Never was this more apparent than after Matt Mobley (19 points) finished an impressive putback dunk midway through the second half, only to see URI storm down the court and get a transition layup from Jeff Dowtin.

Dowtin, the steady sophomore point guard, had a near double-double (18 points, 9 assists), while fellow guards Jarvis Garrett (10 points, 2-2 3FG) and Jared Terrell (13 points) had quality outings. Andre Berry, often a mismatch in the post for a smaller Bonnies team, scored 12 points and hauled in seven rebounds.

URI’s quality three-point defense was at work again, holding SBU to just five-for-15 from distance. And while the Rams didn’t force many turnovers, they did pressure Jaylen Adams (19 points) and Mobley into difficult looks throughout the game.

With the win, URI moves to 5-0 in league play with a game against UMass on Jan. 17.

The Bonnies, on the other hand, continue to slog through an unenviable schedule. The A-10 tasked them with traveling to Dayton, Saint Joseph’s, URI and Davidson (Jan. 19) to start league play. SBU has dropped the first three of those, and will now need to regroup against Peyton Aldridge and the Wildcats.

The game reached its midpoint with some positives for the Bonnies. Adams spent a chunk of the first half on the bench in foul trouble, but still managed to score 11 points (4-5 FG) and keep SBU in the game. The URI run out the break, however, put the Bonnies in too big a hole.

But there was this resounding highlight for Mobley and SBU.

The teams will meet again at the Reilly Center on Feb. 16.