Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
It was a tale of two halves as VCU fell on the road at Rhode Island 71-65, despite holding Rhode Island to 11.1 percent from three.
VCU trailed by 12 late in the second half and managed to cut the lead to as close as two, but could not close the gap.
“We got that lead down to, what, a one possession game? But we didn’t finish,” coach Mike Rhoades said on the Ram Radio postgame show. “I thought early in the game things came easy, even though we didn’t make some shots. We let the lack of offensive production and too many turnovers really affect our defense.”
The Black and Gold have not beat Rhode Island since 2016 and have not beat the team in Kingston, Rhode Island since 2014.
Sophomore forward Marcus Santos-Silva led the way with a career-high 17 points. He also had seven rebounds, leading the team.
The game started off physical as sophomore forward Sean Mobley and Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell hit heads causing Mobley to lose a tooth. Mobley went to the locker room after the hit, but returned to the floor later in the first half.
Santos-Silva dominated the first 4 1/2 minutes, as he had all six VCU points in the span.
VCU used an 11-2 run for about four minutes midway through the first half to put the Rams up eight on Rhode Island.
During the run, four different players scored for the Black and Gold. Freshman forward Vince Williams scored four of the 11 points during the run.
Rhode Island used a 6-0 run to cut the VCU lead to four points with about five minutes remaining.
The Black and Gold took a four-point lead, 25-21, into the locker room at halftime.
HAVOC held Rhode Island to shooting 27.6 percent from the field, including 0-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first half. First-half turnovers were an issue for the Rams — they turned the ball over 13 times, allowing Rhode Island to score 11 points off of the errors.
“We were throwing the balls to the other team,” Rhoades said. “A lot of them were just self-induced turnovers … you play on the road and you give the other team the ball, extra possessions, they’re playing with confidence at home and we got them going because we gave them the ball.”
The Black and Gold, however, forced eight Rhode Island turnovers and scored eight points off of the errors.
The second half was a track meet to start off as both teams exchanged baskets back and forth. It did not last long, as the scoring came to a screeching halt as both teams were held scoreless for just over two minutes.
Rhode Island went on a 6-0 run midway through the second half, pulling ahead by five and forcing Rhoades to call a timeout.
The Black and Gold gave up 50 second-half points to Rhode Island, allowing them to take the victory. VCU managed to score 40 in the second half, falling six points short.
The Rams shot 16.7 percent from beyond the arc, tied for a season-low. The Black and Gold shot this percentage on the road Jan. 12 against Davidson, where VCU also fell.
“Disappointing finish. Effort was there, but we fought the game too much today,” Rhoades said.
The Rams will travel to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. VCU will return home Feb. 2 to face George Mason at 6:30 p.m.
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