KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island hit 16 straight free throws in the final 4:12 to overcome UMass 75-72 on Wednesday night at the Ryan Center. UMass led by as many as nine and clutched a lead over the Rams for much of the game until just after the halfway mark of the second half. Senior forward Stephane Lasme (Libreville, Gabon) tied the UMass career blocked shots record to match Marcus Camby's 336 with seven swats on the night.
UMass falls to 14-6 overall and 4-2 in the Atlantic 10, while Rhode Island improves to 13-8 overall and 6-1 for the A-10 lead.
The Minutemen disrupted the Rams around the perimeter as Rhode Island entered the game as the top three-point shooting team in the conference. League leader Jimmy Baron was held to just 1-for-5 from behind the arc, while the team was just 4-for-17. URI made up the difference, however, at the free throw line where the Rams converted 33-of-43 attempts including the 16 consecutive in the final minutes.
Lasme finished the game with seven blocks to go along with eight points and five rebounds despite being saddled with foul problems for much of the game. He now has 105 for season which is third-best in a single season and also holds the No. 2 single-season mark (108, 2005-06), No. 3 mark (105, 2006-07), and No. 8 mark (72, 2004-05).
Senior center Rashaun Freeman (Schenectady, N.Y.) led UMass with 19 points and 12 rebounds. James Life (Fort Myers, Fla.) scored 19 points as well on the strength of five three-pointers. Freshman guard Ricky Harris (Baltimore, Md.) added 10 points off the bench.
Will Daniels led Rhode Island with 20 points hitting 9-of-13 free throws. Baron added 11 points and Keith Cothran added 14 off the bench.
The two teams went to halftime with UMass ahead 28-23. Rhode Island started cold hitting just one of their first 11 shots.
The Rams fought back in the second half to tie the game at 45 each with 11:51 to play after a three-pointer from Parfait Bitee.
Baron then hit three free throws after being fouled behind the arc to give Rhode Island a 51-49 lead with 7:08 to play after trailing all game.
UMass briefly retook the lead on a Life three-pointer, but Baron hit a three on the next possession, his only field goal of the game, to give the Rams a 54-52 lead with 5:32 remaining.
Gary Forbes (Brooklyn, N.Y.) tied the game and stayed close until Daniels hit a three-pointer with 1:51 to go stretching the lead to 62-56.
Rhode Island put together a 12-4 run down the stretch until Harris hit a pair of lay-ups and Life hit another three-pointer with 14 seconds to play after stealing the inbounds pass at halfcourt.
The Rams hit four straight free throws in the final 12 seconds and sophomore point guard Chris Lowe (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) hit a lay-up and then a three- pointer at the buzzer to give the final score.
The Minutemen finished the game shooting 28-of-63 from the floor including 9-for-25 from behind the arc. Rhode Island shot 19-for-49 from the floor and was limited to just 4-of-17 from behind the arc. The free throw line was the major difference on the night as UMass shot 7-for-10 and URI shot 33-for-43.
- UMASS Sports Information -