SOUTH KINGSTOWN — The result between George Mason and Rhode Island on Sunday was a matter of perspective: either everything went right for the visiting Patriots, or everything went wrong for the Rams. Maybe both. Either way, GMU left town with an emphatic 84-67 basketball victory.
“They beat us for 40 straight minutes today,” URI coach David Cox said. “Embarrassing effort on our behalf. We were out-coached, out-played and out-worked thoroughly. The result was an almost 20-point loss on our home court.”
The Rams (8-7, 1-2 A-10) missed their first 15 3-point attempts — a stretch of futility only mitigated by a pair of makes by freshman reserve Omar Silverio. Silverio represented all of the Rams deep connections on the day; they finished 3 of 25, and their season percentage has fallen all the way to 26 percent, fifth-worst in the country.
Six first-half lead changes came in rapid-fire succession, and was followed by George Mason dominance. The Ram defense allowed five 3-pointers in the first half, and trailed by double-digits for considerable chunks of time.
“We got beat off the bounce thoroughly,” Cox said. “Destroyed off the bounce, couldn’t contain anybody. They were getting to every spot on the court they wanted to get. Particularly in the paint.”
Jordan Miller shed his redshirt to appear in a game for the first time in his collegiate career. The Patriot 6-foot-6 freshman bolted off the bench to score 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting. Starters Justin Kier and Javon Greene handled the rest of the scoring duties — combining for 34 points and three 3-pointers.
The Rams twice made a competitive push to draw within single-digits in the second half, but the Patriots were able to score enough to keep the comeback bids at bay. Silverio’s 3-pointers —and an assist on a Tyrese Martin lay-in — cut the lead down to nine points.
Rhody kept working, and twice whittled the deficit to seven points late, but that margin had more than doubled by the time the final buzzer sounded.
Every area the Rams struggled in, the Patriots (9-3, 3-1 A-10) excelled. They shot 41 percent on 3-pointers, and hit 17 of 18 from the line. The Rams were a poor 10 of 17 on free throws, and their poor 3-point shooting has been well-documented.
“We shot the ball horrendously,” Cox said. “A little bit of it was the shot selection. There were a few contested 3-pointers, but man, we had some toes-to-the-line kick-out 3-pointers that either missed everything or missed badly.”
“Just gotta get to the rim, to the paint more,” suggested Jeff Dowtin. “Get to the free-throw line. Gives you confidence, rhythm.”
An 8-3 start for the home team was misleading. Jermaine Harris scored twice in the opening two minutes, then disappeared the rest of the game. The freshman logged nine minutes, and the two opening buckets represented the entirety of his scoring output. He picked up his third foul 30 seconds into the second half, and played sparingly after that.
Cyril Langevine and Dowtin both scored 15 points, but didn’t have the type of efficient games that could carry their team to a win. Langevine was 5 of 10 from the line and Dowtin was only 6 of 15 from the field, including 0 of 5 on 3-pointers.
Langevine did post a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds. Tyrese Martin continued to trend upwards, blocking two shots and scoring 10 points on 5 of 11 shooting.
The Rams played seven players in their road win over Richmond, but expanded back to nine in their loss to the Patriots. Ryan Preston spent a hair under three minutes on the court, and Silverio bounded into the game in the second half to score a career-high 10 points in only 10 minutes of playing time.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Cox said. “We have to get back in the gym tomorrow to address some things. First and foremost, I have to find five guys who are willing and committed to playing Rhode Island basketball. With the toughness, physicality and urgency that we have always played with.
“Whether it’s five guys or seven, I will find those guys. We will right this ship come Wednesday.”
“We just gotta go out there and be tougher,” Langevine offered. “Everyone knows we’ve been champions for the last two years, so they’re going to come give us their all every time.”
The next team to give the Rams their best will be St. Bonaventure, which comes to the Ryan Center on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Rams have not lost two games in a row all season, and hope to keep that going against the 6-10 Bonnies.
“It starts with me,” Cox said. “I’m not casting the blame on anybody, I have to make sure these guys are ready.
“I can promise the fans that show up on Wednesday, you won’t see this type of performance again.”