Rhode Island is not a three-point shooting team
I mean, they’re not not a three-point shooting team, but it’s not their bread and butter. They average about 18 attempts per game, which is far above zero, but they still came into tonight as one of only 30 teams with less than 500 three-point attempts on the season.
They shoot a respectable 35.6% from long-range (144th in the country) so they are a decent-shooting three-point team who occasionally gets hot but doesn’t rely on it – they’ve only had three conference games where they attempted 20+ threes and shot better than their season average.
Thus, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that their thirty-point loss came on a night where they shot 3-for-29 from three-point range.
Looking at it another way: Stanford Robinson made a three that gave Rhode Island a 7-5 lead three minutes into the game. Sophomore benchwarmer Eric Dadika made a three with 53 seconds left in the game. Outside of those two shots, the Rams were 1-for-27 from long distance.
A defensive tweak for the Hawks made all the difference.
“It was all about the zone tonight,” head coach Phil Martelli said. “I wanted to play both zone and man-to-man, but we spent the last two days practicing nothing but zone and to look up and see 48 points, I think it worked out alright.”
Indeed it did. The Rams started off a little flat on senior night, and an inability to find open shots that weren’t threes (or hit the threes they were getting) caused the frustration to visibly creep in. You aren’t going to win many games when the defense forces you to shoot threes and your three best outside shooters go 1-for-14 from three.
E.C Mathews, who the Rams usually rely on for their secondary scoring, wound up with 13 points for the night but needed 16 shots to get there because nothing was falling.
Rhythm eluded the Rams on offense, and they were regularly caught flat-footed or found themselves in a sloppy, turnover-induced bacl-and-forth which did little but burn energy. Eventually. Rhody extended their defense and started pressing, but it was too little too late as the Rams trailed for less than 30 points for only eight seconds out of the final 13:30 of play.
The Rams are still the regular season A-10 champs, and they’ve got another regular season game against Davidson to right the ship heading into the conference tournament, but St. Joe’s gave everyone a bit of a blueprint now, so Rhode Island better be on their toes from here on out.