It was a quiet day for college basketball in general, but the Atlantic 10 nevertheless had some key non-conference games. Notably, Dayton lost a tough game against St. Mary’s 61-57 after almost coming back to win. Rhode Island rallied from a first half deficit to take down #24 Cincinnati. La Salle lost 77-76 to Texas Southern on a buzzer beater, and Fordham got its third win of the season downing Saint Peter’s 63-41.
1. Dayton Flyers fought hard despite a serious offensive slump
This was an ugly game. The Gaels shot a mere 37.7% from the floor while the Flyers were just 34.0%. Neither team could get much going offensively, especially in the second half. Saint Mary’s lack of offensive production opened the door for a Flyers comeback all the way through the second half, but Dayton could not buy a bucket either. Saint Mary’s maintained a double digit lead throughout a majority of the game until the Flyers went on a run to close the deficit to just 2. Despite Dayton’s efforts, it’d ultimately fall short and move to 2-1 on the year.
Dayton obviously struggled down low, as the Gaels’ star center Jock Landale had 15 points and 14 rebounds. However, this game was certainly winnable considering how bad the opponent shot. Unfortunately for Dayton, its offense went cold, and when it decided to heat up, it was just too little too late. Dayton will try to rebound when it faces Nebraska in the first round of the Wooden Legacy on Thursday.
2. La Salle suffers a brutal home loss to Texas Southern
This one hurt. Just when you think La Salle is going to make a big turnaround and have a stellar year, it goes out and loses a game like this, and we can’t help but be skeptical. Dulani Robinson of Texas Southern nailed a three pointer at the buzzer to secure the win over the Explorers. B.J. Johnson had 24 for La Salle, but it wasn’t enough to lift them over a bad Texas Southern team.
La Salle has looked less than impressive this season, struggling in its two home games after almost pulling out a road win against Temple. Is this Explorers team actually improved, or are they going to fall down to the bottom of the Atlantic 10 once more? It’s definitely early in the season, but it’s going to be tough if La Salle can’t put away these opponents. The Explorers will try to bounce back on Sunday when it faces Drexel.
3. Rhode Island rallied to beat a very talented Cincinnati team
Rhode Island picked up the biggest win of the young season in the Atlantic 10, downing #24 Cincinnati in the first round of the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off. The Rams could not hit the ocean from the beach in the first half, but they fought hard enough to keep the deficit within 10 going into the break. After half, the Rams came alive and started grinding their way back, eventually taking their first lead with around 14 minutes left to play. A huge three pointer by E.C. Matthews would seal the deal down the stretch, and Rhode Island moves to 4-0 on the year.
Rhode Island committed just 10 turnovers against a very stingy Cincinnati defense. E.C. Matthews came alive in the second half after a slow start; he led the Rams in scoring with 18 points. Kuran Iverson had a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards. All in all, this was an enormous win for Rhode Island, and barring an unlikely season collapse form the Bearcats, this win is probably going to look very good come March. The Rams will move on to face Duke in the Championship game tomorrow; the Blue Devils looked a bit shaky against Penn State in the first round, but they’ll still be the clear favorites over the Rams. Win or lose, this is a great chance for Rhode Island to boost its RPI, and even if the Rams leave Connecticut with a 1-1 record, they’ll take it.