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URI Upsets LSU 74-70

Saturday, January 04, 2014

 

It was as ugly as they could make it down the stretch, but the URI Rams earned their best win of the season Saturday with a 74-70 upset over LSU.

E.C. Matthews scored 21 points for the Rams, and Gilvydas Biruta had a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds for the game.

URI out-rebounded LSU (now 9-3 on the season) 46-32 and won the assist battle 16-11. URI shot 45% from the floor and 44% from 3 point range and was the superior shooting team throughout the game.  LSU stayed close on one factor alone- turnovers and steals. The Tigers’ pressure defense gave URI fits all 2nd half, including down the stretch. LSU had 19 steals in the contest and URI had 22 turnovers.

Xavier Munford scored 17 points for Rhody and he and Matthews made some key free throws in the waning moments of the game. The Rams were only 15-25 from the charity stripe Saturday but Munford and Matthews scored the final 3 points there in the last 19 seconds and sealed the deal on the victory.

Jordan Mickey scored 21 points to lead the Tigers and was a thorn in the side of the Rams’ man to man defense in the 2nd half. Outside of struggling to match up with the athletic LSU forward the Rams played one of their best defensive games of the season.

A 13-0 run midway through the first half gave URI a 24-17 lead after hanging close for the first 10 minutes. The Tigers quickly ripped off a 7-0 run of their own to tie the game at 24, but Matthews responded with a 3 pointer to put the Rams back on top.

URI never lost the lead at that point and took a 36-30 advantage into halftime. The Rams shot 56% (15 for 27) from the field on the first half, including 4-7 from 3-point range. URI also outrebounded LSU 21-13 over the first 20 minutes.

Biruta scored Rhody’s first 9 points of the 2nd half, and the Rams built an 11 point lead. LSU used pressure defense and timely shooting to rip off an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 47-44, but layups in transition by Munford and Matthews stretched the lead back to 7 for the Rams.

It was at that point that URI forgot how to handle LSU’s pressure defense and committed turnover after turnover as LSU ripped off a 10-0 run to take the lead.

A Munford 3 started an 8-1 run for the Rams, who moved back ahead by 4 with about 8 minutes to go in the game. LSU scored 4 straight points to tie the score at 59, but the Rams scored the next 8 and never relinquished the lead again.

Adding insult to injury for LSU is the fact that they had to pay URI to play the game, the first meeting ever between the 2 schools. Last season URI beat fellow SEC team Auburn in a “pay for play” game as well.

The Rams next play Tuesday night when they open up conference play by hosting defending Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament champion St. Louis at the Ryan Center. URI closes the non-conference season 9-6, and now have more wins than they did all of last season (8-21).

 

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