It’s all over. University of Rhode Island and Providence College basketball, that is. But don’t shed many tears for the Rams and Friars. They may have lost over the weekend, but they won admirers during their memorable seasons.
URI did not have enough answers for Stanford guard Chasson Randle Sunday night, and the Rams fell to the Cardinal, 74-65, in the second round of the NIT at Stanford. Randle, a senior, scored 35 points, his season best, and needs only 27 to become the school’s career scoring leader.
Sophomores E.C. Matthews with 23 points and 7 rebounds and Hassan Martin with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots led the Rams.
Free-throw shooting was the difference. Stanford was 36-49 from the line, URI 12 of 21. One has to wonder how a team playing its 33rd game can send its opponent to the line for 49 free throws. I doubt the Rams were so sloppy and suspect the officials suffered a little whistleitis.
URI finished 23-10, its first winning season in four years, and third in the Atlantic 10. The Rams made it to the A-10 semifinals and the second round of the NIT. Third-year coach Dan Hurley started one senior, forward Gilvydas Biruta, and the nucleus of this team comprises sophomores and freshmen. To say the future is bright in Kingston is a gross understatement.
Providence concluded its season Friday night with a disappointing performance in the second round of the NCAA East Regional at Columbus. Playing for the first time since their Big East Tournament loss to Villanova on March 13, the Friars were unimpressive from start to finish in their 66-53 loss to Dayton. Senior LaDontae Henton had 18 points and 11 rebounds but made only 7 of his 26 shots. Sophomore point guard Kris Dunn also struggled. He picked up two fouls early and spent a good portion of the first half on the bench. He scored only 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
As a team, Providence shot only 33.9 percent.
Despite the unfortunate finish, this was another good season for fourth-year coach Ed Cooley’s team. The Friars were 22-12 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. Henton was immense all year, and Dunn established himself as a Big East star, and potential first-round NBA draft choice, during a breakout campaign. Here’s hoping that Dunn returns for another year. The 2016 Friars could be his team. If he is running the show, PC’s future is bright. If he opts for NBA dollars, clouds are in PC’s forecast. Dunn will have to make that decision soon.