If the Dukes hope to someday be a factor in the Atlantic-10, beating teams like Rhode Island go along way in making that possible. Saturday afternoon ended up being more of a gut check for Jim Ferry’s team than cementing their presence in the conference.
The Dukes were dominated by the Rams in route to a 90-69 loss at the A.J. Palumbo Center, dropping their conference record to 2-5 and 9-11 overall.
You could see the frustration in Ferry’s face following this latest loss.
“We got beat on anything that had to do with toughness today,” Ferry said. “They beat us on 50-50 balls, they crushed us on the glass. We were one of the best rebounding teams in the conference coming into tonight’s game and give up 19 offensive rebounds.”
After winning the battle in the paint in four of their previous six A-10 games this season, the Dukes were completely throttled by the Rams. The Rams were able to get 50 of their 90 points in the paint including 26 in the second half. For the Dukes, they could only muster 26 points, their lowest production in the paint since a win versus Colgate when they only had 18.
Rhode Island Dan Hurley tried to emphasize attacking the paint coming into today’s game.
“I think it has been the general focus of our team,” Hurley said. “I think we’ve gotten a little three point happy in some of our losses at Dayton and La Salle at home. It is something that we have been talking about.”
Before the Rams took over in the paint, this game was pretty much a back and forth affair. The Dukes were able to take a 11-10 lead with 14:30 in the first half, but it would be the last time they would even sniff the lead. This had a lot to do with the Rams going turnover free for the entire first half, a rarity in college basketball. Despite going 2-9 from the field over the final minutes of the half, the Dukes were still relevatively in the game down 41-31 thanks to the Rams going 6-13 from the foul line. But a 12-4 run by the Rams to begin the second half pretty much ended any hope of a comeback.
Ferry did a lot of soul searching with his team in the second half to try and find some competitiveness.
“Start of the second half I thought our guys had that glazed look on their face and was just playing guys who would compete,” Ferry said. “If you gave up an offensive rebound or competitive play you came out of the game. I was just trying to find guys to compete.”
Mike Lewis II and Tarin Smith tied for the team lead in scoring with 11, the lowest output for a Dukes leading scorer this season. Hassan Martin led the Rams with 20 while Kuran Iverson, the cousin of NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, posted his seventh career double-double with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Dukes will look to get back on track Tuesday night when they travel to North Carolina to take on Davidson. The Wildcats will be honoring reigning NBA MVP and Davidson alumni Steph Curry during the game. Tipoff is set for 7:30 pm. You can catch the game on Facebook Live.