No. 17 Rhode Island aims to bounce back vs. Davidson
This was not the way five seniors who play for No. 17 Rhode Island wanted their last game to end at the Ryan Center, a place where they had not lost all season.
St. Joseph's 2-3 zone defense flustered the Rams to the tune of a 78-48 shocking loss on Tuesday night. It was the Hawks' first win over a ranked opponent on the road since Jan. 2, 1979, at No. 12 Georgetown.
It was the worst loss in coach Dan Hurley's 96 home games at Rhode Island (23-5, 15-2 Atlantic 10). The previous worst defeats were 13-point setbacks against Xavier and Southern Miss in Hurley's first two seasons.
The 30-point loss marked quite the turnaround following an 81-56 blowout of Dayton last Friday that clinched the program's first outright conference title in 46 years.
Rhode Island also suffered the second worst home loss by a ranked team against an unranked opponent in the history of the AP poll. The largest margin of defeat in this situation is 41, when Connecticut won 77-36 at No. 12 Virginia on Nov. 28, 1993.
"I am just stunned by the shooting," Hurley said. "Just stunned by the overall play of the team. For 27 games you look one way, and then ..."
The Rams suffered through their worst shooting performance of the season, making 28.1 percent from the field and 10.3 percent from 3-point range. They were 1 of 15 from 3-point range in the first half. One of Rhode Island's two 3-pointers in the second half came from walk-on guard Eric Dadika, who played the last two minutes of the game.
"We weren't ready to play," Rhode Island senior guard Jared Terrell said. "We didn't come out prepared."
The Rams failed to build on a program-record 17-game winning streak at the Ryan Center and post a perfect home season for the first time since 1944-45.
"If you're not ready to play -- mentally, physically, on all levels -- this game will come up and smack you," Hurley said. "We haven't had one of these all year, and this was a horrible time for it."
Rhode Island will try to regain momentum going into the Atlantic 10 tournament when the Rams visit Davidson (17-11, 12-5) on Friday. The Wildcats, who lost at Rhode Island by 13 points on Feb. 9, are coming off a 117-113 triple-overtime loss at St. Bonaventure on Tuesday.
Junior forward Peyton Aldridge (45 points) and freshman guard Kellan Grady (39) had career-high scoring totals while combining for 84 points.
Davidson coach Bob McKillop's comments after the grueling loss were in stark contrast of Hurley's critical view of his team -- saying they were "inept" -- following the rout at the hands of St. Joseph's.
"I'm thrilled with the way our guys fought," McKillop said. "They played their hearts out. They did everything they could to win the game.
"Clearly, we're a better team because of this experience and we have a lot of things in our memory bank right now that can pay dividends on Friday and in Washington, D.C. (at the Atlantic 10 tournament) next week."
Updated March 1, 2018