Rhode Island pulls away from Richmond for fifth straight win

By Brittany Collens

A sold-out crowd packed Richmond’s Robins Center Sunday afternoon but it was Rhode Island which spoiled the day with a 79-74 victory. The Rams (16-5, 8-2 Atlantic 10) have only allowed more than 60 points once in their previous five games, but they clamped down defensively in the final stretch to prevent the upset.

URI guard E.C. Matthews finished with a team-high 26 points while forward Hassan Martin added 16 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. The Rams hit six free throws in the final 18 seconds to win.

Richmond (12-11, 5-5 A-10) had its chance at a comeback with seven minutes, 55 seconds remaining when guard Kendall Anthony hit a layup to cut the URI lead to 53-51. The Rams responded with on a 9-2 run to re-open the lead.

Despite the close loss, Anthony’s play was a bright spot for the Spiders. He had a season-high 28 points, 22 of which came in the second half as he charged the basket. Richmond also converted 18 turnovers into 23 points.

URI went on a 10-2 run to take a 65-54 lead with 4:37 remaining, but Richmond’s full-court pressure stunned the Rams and an Anthony jumper cut the deficit to 73-70 with 28 seconds remaining. But URI didn’t falter at the free throw line and secured the victory.

Richmond will next host Fordham Wednesday while URI travels to Philadelphia to face Saint Joseph’s.

SJU thankful for home advantage

Saint Joseph’s held off George Mason Saturday in a sloppy 58-54 victory.

The Hawks (10-12, 4-6 Atlantic 10) shot just 51.6 percent from the free-throw line while their leading scorer, DeAndre Bembry, finished 5-of-12 from the field with four turnovers.

But it was Bembry who converted a 3-point play late to preserve the victory and hold off a Patriots team which nearly erased a 10-point second-half deficit.

Luckily for SJU, George Mason (7-15, 2-8 A-10) played just as poorly, committing 19 turnovers, 25 fouls and shooting 53 percent from the free-throw line.

Patriots forward Trey Porter’s layup with 3:22 remaining cut the Hawks lead to 50-48. SJU answered, scoring the next four points before George Mason guard Patrick Holloway buried a 3-pointer to make it 54-51 with 13 seconds left.

Bembry converted on the and-one dunk on the ensuing inbound which pushed the gap to 57-51. Holloway nailed another 3-pointer to make it 57-54, but the Hawks’ Chris Wilson hit a free throw to ice the game.

Bembry finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Holloway had a team-high 16 points while center Shevon Thompson added 15 points and 16 rebounds.

St. Joe’s returns to action Wednesday against URI, while George Mason travels to North Carolina to face Davidson.

Brittany Collens can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @brittcollens22.