Rhody Takes Care Of Business Against Fordham Without Fatts Russell
An elite second-half defensive effort spurred Rhode Island to victory as it knocked off Fordham, 52-42, Sunday afternoon.
Rhody (8-8, 5-4 Atlantic 10) trailed by five points at the start of the second half, as neither side found much offensive rhythm in the first half. Fordham (1-7, 1-7 A-10) was able to establish more balance, getting seven points off the bench from Ty Perry and six points in the middle from Joel Soriano. Rhode Island was led by 10 points from Jeremy Sheppard, but no other player had more than three points in the half as URI was just 9-of-28 from the floor.
After the half, Rhode Island held Fordham to just 14 points. The visitors shot just 22.2 percent (6-for-27) in the half. Though it took a bit for Rhody to get over the hump, URI ended the game on a 13-2 run over the final 6:50. This allowed the home team to play in command down the stretch. A pair of Ishmael Leggett free throws gave Rhody its first lead of the second half at 39-38, and an Allen Betrand 3-pointer on the team’s next possession gave Rhode island the lead for good. Fordham made just one of its final nine shots, while URI hit on five of its last seven attempts to pull away when it mattered most.
Inside the Box Score
Senior Jeremy Sheppard just missed his first career double-double, scoring a game-high 16 points while grabbing nine rebounds. He added three steals and two assists.
Freshman Ishmael Leggett made his first career start and had a career-high 12 points with seven rebounds.
Leggett was 5-of-6 at the free throw line. No other player in the game attemped more than two at the stripe.
It was the fourth different starting lineup for the Rams this season.
All nine players who saw the court for Rhode Island had at least nine rebounds. URI had a massive 47-29 edge on the boards. Sophomore Makhel Mitchell tied Sheppard for team-high honors with nine rebounds.
Mitchell also matched his career high with four blocked shots.
Senior Fatts Russell missed the game with a core muscle injury, snapping a streak of 31 consecutive starts. He is considered day-to-day.
Rhode Island’s next game – at the moment – is at La Salle on Wednesday, Jan. 27.