URI Rallies from 14 Points Down to Beat La Salle
This game had all the makings of an instant classic, and it delivered. Wednesday night, Rhode Island welcomed Dayton to The Ryan Center. In Archie Miller’s first matchup against his former program, the Rams were looking to make a statement against a Flyers team riddled with injuries. Though URI found itself in a hole early on, the most impressive offensive display of the season began to take shape, seeing the Rams vanquish their Atlantic 10 opponents, 75-70, in front of a boisterous Ryan Center crowd.
FREE THROW – All Smiles For Brayon Freeman
Brayon Freeman plays with a swagger unmatched by anyone else on the court. The sophomore guard feeds off the crowd’s energy and lives in the moment; saying after the game, “That’s just how I like to play. I just like to have fun. I smile all the time. When your team is playing like that and the fans are in it, it’s kind of hard not to have that type of energy.”
After his career-high 25 points vs George Mason, Freeman followed up that showing with a 21-point performance in the win against Dayton. The transfer from George Washington shot 47 percent from the field, while also leading the team with five made 3-pointers. Freeman was a player at the start of the season who preferred driving to the basket or firing from mid-range. But, as the season has progressed, the guard has found a rhythm from beyond the arc. When asked about this growing trend following the game, Freeman said, “I figured out the scout, so I’ve just been getting up reps, it’s just about reps. When you shoot it so much and you see it go in, you get a good feeling. It’s also confidence, and knowing what the defense is going to try and do to me, and just taking what they give me.” With this emphatic performance, Freeman is averaging 14.6 points per game, with his display against Dayton his 16th double-digit performance of the season.
MID RANGE – Another Clutch Ishmael Leggett Display
Ishmael Leggett is putting together an All Atlantic 10 resume, with his display against Dayton the crown jewel so far. The versatile guard finished with team-high 25 points, his eighth straight double-digit performance, and his 19th of the season. Leggett shot 41 percent from the field, as well as 11-for-11 from the free throw line. Four of those 11 free throws came within the final two minutes of the game, giving the Rams the security they needed to hold on for an all-impressive victory.
After the game, Leggett reflected on the team’s performance saying, “It feels great, definitely, to get a win for Archie and to protect our home court. Last game, we didn’t get the result we wanted, so this was a great bounce back game for us, and it was a step in the right direction for sure.”
The redshirt sophomore is averaging a team-high 16.3 points per game this season, as well as 6.1 rebounds per game, second behind Malik Martin (6.2).
THREE POINTER – Jalen Carey The Defensive Lynchpin
Jalen Carey has quietly been the Rams’ third-best performer over the past few games, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In addition to his 12 points against Dayton, the dynamic guard had a team-high eight rebounds, as well as two blocks and a steal. Given the offensive display courtesy of Freeman and Leggett, Carey’s contribution to the Rams’ win flies somewhat under the radar. The 6-3 guard has an impressive vertical for his size, which allowed him to compete effortlessly against the much larger Dayton frontcourt. As one of the more seasoned veterans in this young squad, Carey’s experience, coupled with his versatility, makes him a key cog in Miller’s system. Given the strength of his performance against Dayton, as well as how well the team operated as a unit, particularly in transition, expect Carey to remain a key name on the Rhode Island team sheet through the end of the season.
Rhode Island improved to 7-13 (3-5 A-10) on the season. Up next, the Rams host La Salle on Saturday. Opening tip is slated for 2 p.m., and you can catch all the action streaming live on ESPN+, or listen along on the Varsity Network App.