KINGSTON - The Rams have done a little bit of everything on their burgeoning win streak. They’ve won by large and small margins. They’ve won by outplaying the competition in the second half. They’ve won both fast and slow-paced games.
Rhody added a new wrinkle on Tuesday night against UMass (9-13, 3-6), by putting forth one of their most even performances on what is now a nine-game win streak. URI outlasted the Minutemen in a 73-67 final.
The Rams needed all the minutes and production they could get from their three captains. Cyril Langevine, Fatts Russell and Jeff Dowtin combined to score 52 of URI’s points in the win.
“We talked at halftime about how these three have to lead with their play and communication,” Cox said of his captains. “I thought they did that in the second half.”
UMass was powered by freshman Tre Mitchell who put up a career-high 30 points (13-20 from the floor, three assists).
“They have an elite-level freshman who poured in 30 points tonight,” Cox said. “He gave us some issues.”
On Tuesday, Langevine became the third URI player in the past two seasons to hit the 1,000-point plateau. With 8:36 to play in the first half, Langevine connected on a pair of free throws that put his career point total at 1,000, then 1,001.
“He’s been the embodiment of this program,” Cox said. “You talk about Rhode Island culture, toughness, defense, unselfishness, he’s all of those things. He does everything we ask him to.”
The senior center ended the night with 15 points. Langevine’s next target is Dustin Hellenga, who scored 1,040 points in his Rams career.
“It was big to get 1,000,” Langevine said. “Took a long time. I was happy. The guys were happy for me.
“Every day [Jeff Dowtin and Fatts Russell would ask] ‘When are you gonna get it?’. I finally got it. Happy I joined them.”
“I told him he better not get 1,000 rebounds before 1,000 points,” Russell joked.
Dowtin accomplished the feat in last year’s Atlantic 10 tournament. Russell got it done in his native city of Philadelphia earlier this season.
“Those are huge accomplishments,” Cox said. “Then you have to throw in assists, steals, rebound and blocks. It’s not just the points. They have stuffed the stat sheets since they’ve been here. Consequently, we’ve been winning. As they go, we go.
“I wouldn’t want to be with another trio of guys.”
Dowtin and Russell were equally big parts of the victory. Dowtin went for 16 points, four assists and two steals. Russell was URI’s leading scorer with 21 points.
Langevine crossing this particular milestone off his list means URI now has three active members of the exclusive 1,000-point club. The last two Rhody teams who could boast that both made the NCAA Tournament.
The trio of Hassan Martin, E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell guided the Rams to the promised land back in 2016-17. Tyson Wheeler, Cuttino Mobley and Antonio Reynolds-Dean made a run to the Elite Eight in the ‘98-99 season. Carlos Cofield, Abdul Fox and Andre Samuel were all active 1,000-point scorers during the ‘93-’94 season, but that team failed to qualify for the tournament. They had won a game as an eight-seed the season prior.
The only potential downside to the high-level play of the three captains is the amount of minutes they’ve been forced to play. Dowtin and Russell both spent 38-plus minutes on the court; Langevine registered 31 minutes of action.
“We like playing the game of basketball,” Dowtin said. “We pride ourselves on taking care of our bodies. We’re built for these long games.”
The Rams will look to keep the win streak going on Saturday, at George Washington.
“We have one goal: that’s to keep winning,” Dowtin said. “We’ll see what happens from there.”