Kingston, R.I. — Fatts Russell and the Rhode Island Rams outscored the Atlantic 10-leading Duquesne Dukes 47-17 in the second half, giving them their fifth straight win and a key conference victory. The Dukes could not buy a basket in the second half and their defense could only hold the flood for so long, as they ultimately fell 77-55.
Coming into the game, the Dukes were leading the A-10 in scoring defense, allowing only an average of 61.2 points per game. They had won five games in a row and held their opponents to under 64 points each game. The Rhode Island Rams’ last four victories were all relatively low scoring affairs, only scoring more than 70 points once.
The first half was a defensive battle at first, with lots of whistles going against both teams. Marcus Weathers, the leading scorer for Duquesne, picked up some early fouls that forced him in and out of the game. Both teams traded baskets for a while, until the Dukes jumped out to an eight-point lead with just a few minutes left.
After a three-pointer from Tavian Dunn-Martin, he picked up a technical for taunting, giving the Rams two freebies and a chance to cut the lead down before the half. After another three-pointer from Baylee Steele, the Dukes took an eight-point lead into the half.
Russell, URI’s leading scorer, took control of the game and led a 19-4 run over the span of several minutes midway through the second half to give the Rams the lead. The Dukes’ defense played well during the first half and in the opening minutes of the second half, but they cracked under the pressure after their offense was firing blanks on most of their possessions.
The Dukes were able to cut the lead to six with over eight minutes left, but the Rams rolled off a massive 21-5 run to finish the game, ending up with a huge 22-point victory.
The Rams have to be feeling confident after putting up a big total against the best scoring defense in the A-10. Russell led all scorers with 23 points, and Jeff Dowtin and Tyrese Martin added 17 and 13 points respectively. Martin also finished with 11 rebounds, giving him his second double-double of the season.
For the Dukes, Weathers finished with 20 points off a hot 7-8 shooting night but fouled out as they were trying to rally in the closing minutes. Duquesne will certainly look back at this game with regret depending on how it finishes off the season. The Dukes allowed the most points since their lost loss to Marshall in December. The loss also knocks them off first place, which they had previously held tied with Dayton.
Both teams return to action on Saturday, with the Rams facing off against St. Bonaventure and the Dukes taking on the struggling UMass squad.