Dec. 9, 1997

Friars Fall to Rams in State Rivalry Game

URI's Size And Experience Too Much For PC In 69-58 Win

Jamal Thomas
Jamel Thomas' 25-point performance could not overcome Rhode Island. (File Photo)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - As great rivalries go, the 110th meeting between the Providence College Friars and the University of Rhode Island Rams won't go into the record books as a classic - it will go into the books as a 69-58 Rhode Island victory. It was a game that saw two teams scratch and claw for every point they would get. It was a game that saw Rhode Island's experience and size lead the Rams to their second consecutive win in the series, something URI hadn't accomplished since 1980-81.

Many URI fans thought this game would be a blowout as Providence rebuilds with a team that features no seniors under scholarship. Pete Gillen's Friars showed they had plenty of fight to give URI a game.

The Rams put four players in double figures with Cuttino Mobley leading the way with 16 points. Antonio Reynolds-Dean added 15 points and a game high 11 rebounds while Preston Murphy and Luther Clay chipped in 13 points apiece. Jamel Thomas led the Friars with a game high 25 points (6-20 from the floor), with 13 coming from the foul line. Llewellyn Cole was the only other Friar in double figures with 11 points.

The lead changed hands ten times in the first half and the Friars actually led by as many as three points despite shooting just 27.6% (8-29) in the half. Providence led 25-24 with 4:40 left in the first half when Thomas picked up his third foul of the game. URI would outscore the Friars, 11-2 over the final 4:40, including the last six points of the half to take a 33-27 halftime lead.

The Rams would start the second half red hot upping the lead to 41-31 with 12:56 left in the game. That's when PC made its final run. A John Linehan steal turned into an easy layup. Llewellyn Cole scored on a layup and then drilled a three-pointer to offset a Tyson Wheeler three and the lead was 44-39. Kendrick Moore added a layup to make it 44-41. URI added a pair of free throws which Thomas quickly matched at 7:57.

URI head coach Jim Harrick then took a timeout to calm his troops down and it worked wonders. PC forced a quick URI turnover before PC's Ben Perkins stumbled on a cross over move and turned the ball over. The Rams quickly converted that into an eight-point lead at 51-43 with 6:43 left in the game. From there the Friars were forced to foul to stay in the game. The Rams converted 12 of 14 free throws in the final 4:43 to seal the victory.

PC shot just 32.1% (18-56) in the game and was two-for-20 from behind the three-point arc. URI shot 42.3% (22-52) in the game, and also outrebounded the Friars by a 45-30 margin. Joshua King had 10 boards for the Rams and Preston Murphy added eight. The Friars top rebounder was Jamel Thomas with six. Llew Cole had five and Ben Perkins added four.

The loss drops PC to 2-3 on the season, the first time a Providence College team has been under .500 since the 1991-92 season when the Friars were 2-3 to start that year also. URI goes to 4-1 on the year and returns to action on December 13 at the Civic Center against UNLV. Game time is 7:00 p.m.

The Friars are now off until December 20th when they travel to Canisius for a 7:30 p.m. game with at the Marine Midland Arena.

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