Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Down by 15 points, men’s basketball was able to cut Rhode Island’s lead to 1 late in the game, but couldn’t get over the hump.
The black and gold fell to the visiting Rams on Saturday afternoon 65-56 at the Siegel Center, snapping a 21-game win streak at home.
VCU never led in the contest, but came close when junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva grabbed a rebound and then laid it in.
The black and gold used a 5-0 run, capped by Santos-Silva’s putback, to cut the lead to 1 late in the game, but couldn’t take the lead. During the run, VCU held Rhode Island off the scoreboard for almost five minutes.
“We’re not going to quit, we’re going to fight,” coach Mike Rhoades said. “But you can’t get down 15 against good teams. … The mentality we had to get it down to 1, we’ve got to have that mentality all the time.”
Senior guard De’Riante Jenkins echoed Rhoades’ sentiments.
“There ain’t no quit in us,” Jenkins said. “There’s no score that we don’t think we can’t come back and win. Basketball is a game of runs, and the way we play, we create a lot of turnovers and puts the offense on edge.”
Santos-Silva logged his sixth double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The game was physical with 33 fouls between the two squads, which was expected from the black and gold.
“That’s what they’re [Rhode Island] known for: playing physical, going to the offensive glass,” Jenkins said. “They’re a great rebounding team.”
The visiting Rams out-rebounded VCU 43-40 in the contest, but the black and gold won the battle on the offensive glass 15-12.
Rhode Island and VCU battled in a game of runs in the contest, and the visiting Rams struck first.
“I thought early in the game we didn’t respond … when offense didn’t go our way,” Rhoades said. “That lack of finish on offense affected everything.”
The black and gold let Rhode Island jump out to a lead early as they went on an 8-0 run to push their lead to 9.
“We can’t let games like this slip away or give teams confidence, especially at home,” Jenkins said. “Or dig holes that are hard for us to get out. They did a good job at that early on and they didn’t look back.”
Late in the half, the black and gold snapped a 3 1/2 minute drought, going on a 9-0 run in just under two minutes.
Junior forward Corey Douglas sparked the run with a putback layup and redshirt-senior guard Marcus Evans ended the run with a 3-pointer from the corner. The run cut Rhode Island’s lead to 6 to close the first half.
Rhode Island opened the second half on a 10-2 run to push its lead to 15. Then, the black and gold chipped away slowly at the Rhode Island lead.
Senior forward Mike’l Simms hit a 3-pointer, and senior forward Issac Vann knocked down two free throws to cut the lead to 10. Freshman guard Bones Hyland hit a 3-pointer to pull VCU within 7.
The black and gold’s comeback attempt fell short as they ended the game on a 2 1/2 minute scoring drought, going 0-for-6 from the field during that span.
Men’s basketball travels to Dayton on Jan. 14 to face the Flyers at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.