University of RI plays American International College men’s basketball


SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Here were 40 minutes of evidence as to why the University of Rhode Island wanted a tune-up before jumping into Atlantic 10 play. 

The Rams looked like a team coming off a 20-day pause due to COVID-19. This late booking with American International resulted in a 70-55 victory for the hosts at the Ryan Center, and it wasn’t pretty. 

It was, however, to be expected. URI has been out of action since a Dec. 13 blowout win at Milwaukee due to multiple virus positives among players and staff. Nonconference games against Charleston and Brown were canceled prior to league postponements against Dayton and La Salle. 

“We didn’t anticipate having these types of breaks coming into the season,” URI coach David Cox said. “We thought it would be different. Obviously, the game today — it looked like we hadn’t played in a few weeks.  

“Extremely, extremely rusty out there on both ends of the floor. But it was imperative that we got this game in because we hadn’t played in three weeks. We needed to get the rust off before going on the road for our first two conference games.” 

The Rams committed 11 turnovers and were just 6-for-12 from the foul line in the first half against their Division II opposition. That general lack of sharpness plagued them to the final whistle. URI’s considerable physical advantages were enough to secure the right result in this one — the undersized Yellow Jackets finished at just 31.9% from the floor. 

More: URI men’s basketball finds an opponent for Sunday

More: COVID cancels URI-Charleston game 

URI head coach David Cox talks to his players on the bench during the second half of Sunday's game against AIC.

“If we started conference like that, it would have been ugly for us,” URI guard Malik Martin said. “I think we needed this game. We’ve got to have two more good practices going into Wednesday and we’ll be fine.” 

The Rams are now anticipating opening league play on Wednesday night at George Mason. There are a few points of study they’ll take into that one: 

Vaccination rate at 90 percent for Rams

URI (9-3) should be back to full strength entering this week. 

Antwan Walker was the lone member of the roster still in health and safety protocols as of Sunday. Cox said the reserve forward is expected back at practice on Monday and should be cleared prior to Wednesday’s tip. 

Martin disclosed he and fellow guard Ishmael El-Amin were among those who tested positive for the virus in December. He was asymptomatic but still forced to quarantine in his dorm room for an extended period.  

American International's Donovan Miller knocks the ball away from URI's Sebastian Thomas in first-half action on Sunday.

“Obviously it showed on the court today,” Martin said. “We were out of rhythm.” 

Cox estimated 90% of the Rams — based on a combined number of 20 players and staff members — are fully vaccinated. Up to five URI players will be eligible for booster shots in the immediate future. 

“Obviously the school now has a new mandate for young men and women to come back,” Cox said. “They have to get boosters if they qualify for it.” 

Makhi Mitchell, of URI, grabs a rebound during Sunday's nonleague game against AIC.

The Rams were one of what felt like a minority of programs that didn’t need a pause last season. URI was free to practice and play rescheduled games as they became available. Contingency plans in place for the better part of two years were finally put to the test. 

“Having a relatively mature group, I think they handled it extremely well,” Cox said. “They’re eager to get back out here on the court.” 

Finding an opponent

Cox described the process of making a date with AIC as “a mad scramble.” 

The Rams found out during their Friday practice La Salle was going to be forced to pull out of its scheduled trip to Kingston. URI wound up contacting the Yellow Jackets (5-7) after their own Northeast-10 game with Le Moyne was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns among the Dolphins. 

“We called every team we could possibly call,” Cox said. “We called a number of Division I teams and couldn’t get a bite or couldn’t make it work.  

“Late notice, New Year’s Day travel, money — all of those factors. We came up with the best that we could do here.” 

The Flyers were among the potential opponents. There were brief discussions between the Rams, Dayton and the conference after a corresponding Sunday postponement between the Flyers and St. Bonaventure. Dayton was unable to secure a charter or late commercial flight reservation to visit URI. 

Checking the numbers

Martin finished one point shy of a double-double, finishing with nine and pulling down 11 rebounds. 

The stat sheet was kind to him and a couple of fellow Rams in this one. El-Amin chipped in nine of his 14 points in the second half and connected on all but one of his five 3-point attempts. Makhi Mitchell was 7-for-8 from the field while collecting 19 points and eight rebounds. 

URI’s Jalen Carey hits a shot over American International’s Frankyn Batista in the second half on Sunday.

URI shot 48.1% in the first half but faded to 38.7% after the break. AIC found it particularly tough going through the opening 20 minutes, finishing at 25% from the field and 2-for-12 from 3-point range. Frankyn Batista totaled 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets while Carlos Hubb hit double figures with 13 points. 

The Rams improved to 4-0 all-time against AIC, winning the first meeting since the 1941-42 season. Frank Keaney was URI’s head coach and started 60-40 through his first 100 career games. Cox improved to 58-42 thanks to Sunday’s victory, hitting the century mark midway through his fourth season in charge.  

On Twitter: @BillKoch25 

The Rams' Ishmael Leggett is fouled by the Yellow Jackets' Jordan Vidal as he drives to the basket in the first half of Sunday's game.

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL (55): Batista 6-19 2-2 14, Covington 0-1 0-0 0, Golding 0-4 0-0 0, Miller 1-6 0-0 2, Vidal 4-7 0-0 9, Hubb 5-12 1-2 13, Hicks 3-9 0-0 9, Jordan 2-4 0-0 4, Washington 0-6 2-4 2, Lopes 0-0 0-0 0, Weston 1-1 0-0 2; totals 22-69 5-8 55. RHODE ISLAND (70): Makhi.Mitchell 7-8 5-9 19, Makhe.Mitchell 0-4 2-2 2, El-Amin 5-6 0-0 14, Leggett 2-6 1-1 6, Sheppard 1-7 0-0 2, Martin 2-5 5-8 9, Carey 3-9 0-0 7, Thomas 1-3 0-0 2, Ayo-Faleye 1-5 0-0 2, Berry 3-5 0-0 7; totals 25-58 13-20 70.

       Halftime — Rhode Island 35-22. 3-Point Goals — American International 6-22 (Hicks 3-7, Hubb 2-8, Vidal 1-2, Golding 0-1, Batista 0-2, Miller 0-2), Rhode Island 7-22 (El-Amin 4-5, Carey 1-1, Berry 1-3, Leggett 1-4, Thomas 0-1, Ayo-Faleye 0-2, Martin 0-2, Sheppard 0-4). Rebounds — American International 34 (Batista 14), Rhode Island 46 (Martin 11). Assists — American International 14 (Batista, Miller, Vidal, Hubb, Jordan 2), Rhode Island 16 (Thomas 5). Total Fouls — American International 15, Rhode Island 10. Records — Rhode Island 9-3, American International 5-7. 

URI women postponed again

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — It will be at least another week before the University of Rhode Island women open their Atlantic 10 conference schedule. 

The Rams have had a second league game postponed, this time on Wednesday against Massachusetts. Both programs remain on pause due to COVID-19. 

The conference made the announcement on Sunday, exactly seven days before URI will travel to Fordham for a noon tip in the Bronx. The Rams have been idle since finishing their non-conference schedule on Dec. 19 with a victory over Boston University. 

URI improved to 10-3 thanks to a three-game winning streak, including the 54-44 triumph over the Terriers. The Rams won their first seven games of the season, dropped the next three and rebounded into the exam break. That momentum has been lost thanks to what is now an extended absence. 

New Year’s Day was supposed to mark the opening of URI’s league season. The Rams were set to welcome Dayton prior to reporting virus issues within their program. Those have yet to subside.  

— Bill Koch


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Women’s Basketball To Tip Off The Season With An Exhibition Game Against Bentley


FRIARS TIP OFF AGAINST BENTLEY IN EXHIBITION PLAY… The Providence College women’s basketball team will host NCAA Division II Bentley in an exhibition game on Thursday, Nov. 4. The game will be played at Alumni Hall/Mullaney Gymnasium in Providence, R.I. and is scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m.

HISTORY… Providence and Bentley played one another seven times during the infancy of the Friars’ women’s basketball program. As regional competitors, the two teams first met during the 1975-76 campaign and the series ended at the conclusion of the 1981-82 season. 

SEASON OPENER VS. YALE… The Friars will officially open the season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 against Yale at Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m. The two teams last met during the 2019-20 campaign under a unique set of circumstances. The Friars traveled to New Haven, Conn. on Nov. 5, 2019 and led 42-33 at the half, but the remainder of the game was suspended due to a scoreboard malfunction. The game was eventually completed on Dec. 3 and the Bulldogs managed to pull out an 82-79 victory. Mary Baskerville paced the Friars with 19 points and nine rebounds. Ellen Andrews (23) and Roxy Barahman (19) combined to score 42 points to lead Yale. 

HOME-SWEET-HOME… The Friars will play 13 of their first 17 games at home in Alumni Hall/Mullaney Gymnasium in Providence, R.I. Through the first two months of the season, the Friars leave the city of Providence just twice. On Nov. 13, the Friars travel to Orono, Maine to face the Black Bears. On Dec. 31, Providence will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on Xavier (and remain on the road to face Butler on Jan. 2). Providence’s only other road game during the months of November and December will be played at Brown University, which is located in Providence, R.I.

FRIARS SET TO MAKE THEIR RETURN TO THE DUNKIN’ DONUTS CENTER… The Friars will host a game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for the first time since 2010 when they welcome Connecticut on Sunday, Jan. 30. Tip-off is set for 11:00 a.m. It marks the first time Providence has played a game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center since Feb. 6, 2010 against West Virginia.

NEW LOOK FRIARS… The Friars welcome eight new faces to the program this season, including two transfers and six freshmen. Andreana Wrister is a graduate transfer, who played four seasons at Tennessee State. Janai Crooms, a native of Cranston, R.I., has played three seasons of NCAA Division I basketball in the Big Ten at Ohio State and Michigan State. Both Wrister and Crooms are guards. Four more guards will join the rotation as freshmen in Kylee Sheppard, Meghan Huerter, Nariah Scott and Audrey Koch. Olivia Olsen and Emily Archibald join the frontcourt for their rookie seasons in the college ranks.

PROVIDENCE PICKED TO FINISH EIGHTH IN BIG EAST PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL… The Friars were picked to finish eighth in the 2021-22 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which was released at the league’s annual media day at MSG in New York City. The Friars recorded 32 points in the poll and sit above Georgetown (27), Xavier (18) and Butler (17). Connecticut was a unanimous selection to win the league for a second-straight season.

MARY BASKERVILLE NAMED TO ALL-BIG EAST SECOND TEAM AT THE CONCLUSION OF 2020-21 SEASON… Last season, Mary Baskerville led Providence College in scoring (12.7 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg), blocked shots (1.8 bpg), steals (1.4 spg) and field-goal percentage (.538, 112-208). For her efforts, she was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team. It marked her first postseason honor since earning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and BIG EAST All-Freshman Team accolades in 2019. 

ALYSSA GEARY LOOKS TO PICK UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF… Senior Alyssa Geary returns for her senior year having shown steady progress in her game each of the previous three seasons. Last year, she started all 21 games ranked second among her teammates in (11.4 ppg) and blocked shots (1.3 bpg) and third in rebounding (4.8 rpg) and assists (2.4 apg). Geary recorded a team-best 15 double-digit scoring games, including six-straight to finish the season. She led the Friars in scoring (14.5 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg) and blocked shots (2.0 bpg) during the BIG EAST Tournament, including 19 points and nine rebounds in the Friars’ First Round victory over Butler (Mar. 3). 

FRIARS IN THE POSTSEASON… The Friars’ last appeared in the postseason during the 2018-19 campaign, when their current senior class came on to the scene as freshmen. Providence’s 2019 WNIT selection marked the program’s 15th post-season appearance overall and first since 2010. In 2019-20, NCAA and WNIT Championships were canceled to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Friars did not qualify for postseason during the abbreviated 2020-21 campaign.  Complete post-season breakdown below (records in parentheses).

2018-19 WNIT Round of 16 – (2-1)

2009-10 WNIT Quarterfinal Round (3-1)

1991-92 NCAA Tournament First Round (0-1)

1990-91 NCAA Tournament Second Round (1-1)

1989-90 NCAA Tournament East Regional (1-1)

1988-89 NCAA Tournament First Round (0-1)

1986-87 National Women’s Invitational Tournament (1-2)

1985-86 NCAA Tournament First Round (0-1)

1981-82 EAIAW Regional Tournament (0-1)

1980-81 EAIAW Regional Tournament (0-1)

1979-80 EAIAW National Tournament (3-1)

1978-79 EAIAW Regional Tournament (0-1)

1977-78 EAIAW Regional Tournament (1-1)

1976-77 EAIAW Regional Tournament (2-2)

1975-76 EAIAW Regional Tournament (1-2)

WHAT’S NEXT… The Friars will open the 2021-22 regular-season schedule against Ivy League foe Yale on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The game will be played at Alumni Hall/Mullaney Gymnasium in Providence, R.I. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m.


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