KINGSTON, R.I. –
University of Massachusetts men's basketball led by as many as 15 points in the opening frame but Rhode Island's strong shooting performance in the second half and 38 free throw attempts on the game helped the Rams drops the Minutemen, 79-77 at the Ryan Center on Sunday afternoon.
finished with a team-leading 20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. DeJon Jarreau
totaled 15 points with nine assists while Donte Clark
scored 12 points and Luwane Pipkins
E.C. Matthews totaled 22 points for Rhode Island as the redshirt junior guard shot 10-of-14 overall. Hassan Martin put in 17 points with six blocks while Jeff Dowtin and Kuran Iverson chipped in 11 and 10, respectively.
Rhode Island finished 27-of-52 shooting overall (51.9 percent) and went 21-for-38 at the foul line (55.3 percent). Massachusetts hit 29 of its 61 field goal attempts (47.5 percent), but was put at the foul line just 18 times (13-of-18; .722).
"That was a typical Rhode Island-UMass game, a hard-fought game that came down to the wire," head coach Derek Kellogg
said. "They made some really good plays in that stretch where they went up a few. And they went to the free-throw line 38 times to 18. That's a tell-tale sign of where the game was heading."
Trailing by 10 with 74 seconds to go, the Minutemen nearly erased the deficit during a frantic, game-closing series of plays that saw the Minutemen put in seven consecutive points to drop the deficit to 78-75 with 38 seconds to go. Jarreau had five of the team's seven scored in that stretch, which was snapped by a Martin free throw that posted URI to a 79-75 edge with nine ticks left on the Ryan Center scoreboard clock.
Martin missed the second foul shot and Jarreau again brought UMass back within one bucket of tying via a jumper with two seconds to go. The Minutemen nearly stole the inbounds pass near midcourt, but Clark was unable to bring down a back-court lob attempt by Rhode Island cleanly and time ran out on the comeback one inbounds play later.
The Rhode Island offense struggled during the early minutes of the contest, which the Minutemen took advantage of. The Maroon and White held a double-digit advantage in the final five minutes of the first, but a late run by the Rams brought the margin to 38-34 Minutemen at the break. UMass shot 13-of-28 overall (46.4 percent) and 45.5 percent from 3-point range (5-of-11) with seven made free throws in eight attempts (87.5 percent).
Massachusetts built its sizable lead as the squad pounded the ball into the paint during a three-and-a-half-minute span where the Minutemen outscored Rhode Island, 8-0. Holloway connected on a layup and traditional 3-point play for the first five points, Clark hit the front end of two foul shots and Hines converted at the rim for the 31-16 advantage.
However, Rhode Island countered with 18 of the final 25 points in the frame, including 11 of the last 13 as the Rams inched with four of tying at the break.
Follow the team throughout the season on Twitter and Instagram (@UMassBasketball).
Massachusetts plays its next two contest at home in the Mullins Center. The Minutemen host Saint Joseph's on Wed., Jan. 18 for a 7 p.m. contest broadcast live on NESN and NESNnational. UMass follows with a Sat., Jan. 21 tilt against Fordham at 12:30 p.m. on NBCSN.