Rhode Island had its first scare of the season.
The 21st-ranked Rams narrowly defeated Brown, 79-72, on Wednesday evening in a game in which Rhode Island had to sweat until the final moments.
Brown pulled to within five with under 4 minutes to play before Rhode Island answered with a bucket from E.C. Matthews followed by a Jared Terrell steal and another Matthews layup to gain nine points worth of separation and eventually a victory.
The game being tight is a bit perplexing given the Rams’ stats are pretty solid for the night. They shot 57.7 percent from the field – including 37.5 percent from 3-point range – but they really hurt themselves on the line, going 13 of 22 from the charity stripe. They also didn’t control the boards quite like they have this season with just seven offensive boards while surrendering 10 to Brown.
Jared Terrell was 7 of 11 from the floor to finish with a team-high 18 points while Matthews had 17 and Hassan Martin 12 courtesy of 6 of 7 shooting. Steven Spieth had 21 points for Brown.
Rhode Island is an interesting case study this year as they’re the consensus A-10 pick despite the fact they’re a team that went 17-15 last year and 9-9 in the league. What’s given them the edge, in most eyes, is Matthews, who missed all of last year with an ACL injury.
He certainly looks as though he’s fully recovered, scoring at least 17 points in all three of the Rams’ games this season and shooting 71.8 percent (!!!) from the floor. So, yeah, he’s pretty good and could be the difference in a conference race.
Still, there’s likely some kinks that need to be worked out as Matthews reintroduces himself to the rest of the Rams, and a night like Wednesday probably shouldn’t be too alarming. But it is a reminder that while Rhode Island is extremely talented, the A-10 is probably going to be hotly contested between the Rams, Dayton and VCU.