Anthony Hickey missed a potential game-winning 3-point shot in the final seconds and Rhode Island held on for a 74-70 victory against LSU on Saturday evening at the PMAC.
After watching the Tigers rally from a 12-point second-half deficit, the Rams found themselves on the short end of a 54-51 score just under the ten-minute mark. With E.C. Matthews making two free throws and converting a three-point play, Rhode Island went ahead 59-55. After two baskets by Jordan Mickey, the Rams went on a game-deciding 8-0 run. Xavier Munford knocked down a 3-pointer and sank two foul shots. Ifeanyi Onyekaba made a basket and Gilvydas Biruta hit one of two foul shots. Rhode Island never lost the lead the rest of the game.
KEY PERIOD IN FIRST HALF
After losing a six-point lead, LSU scored seven straight points to tie the score at 24-24 with 5:08 remaining. However, Rhode Island didn't fold in the final minutes of the first half. Both Matthews and Reischel made a two-point basket and a 3-pointer as the Rams outscored the Tigers 10-4. After a field goal by Mickey, Rhode Island closed the half with Biruta making a wide-open layup to take a 36-30 lead into the break.
KEY PERIOD IN SECOND HALF
With four minutes remaining in the game, LSU made one last run at the Rams. Trailing 69-61, the Tigers got a 3-pointer from Hickey. Both teams began splitting foul shots. Onyekaba and Biggie Minnis were 1-of-2 for Rhode Island, while Andre Stringer and Johnny O'Bryant were 1-of-2 for LSU. The Tigers cut their deficit to one point at 71-70 with 1:27 to play after Stringer made two foul shots and O'Bryant made a field goal. LSU came up empty on its next two possessions as O'Bryant committed a turnover and Hickey missed a runner in the lane. Munford made one of two free throw attempts with 18 seconds remaining to give the Rams a 72-70 lead. With seven seconds left, Hickey missed a deep 3-point attempt. Matthews rebounded for Rhode island and made the two game-clinching foul shots.
LSU'S TOP STARTER
Mickey was the lone Tigers post player to display any intensity throughout the game. Mickey, who made a season-high 10 field goals on 15 attempts, had 21 points. He eclipsed the 20-point mark for just the second time this season. On the defensive end, Mickey blocked four shots and made a season-high three steals.
LSU'S TOP RESERVE
The Tigers received very little help from the bench. LSU substitutes contributed only nine points and eight rebounds in a combined total of 54 minutes. Malik Morgan accounted for five points, while Shavon Coleman matched his season-low with four points in 24 minutes.
LSU'S UNSUNG HERO
The only player other than Mickey to make a positive contribution was Stringer, who had 13 points. Stringer matched his career-high in assists with seven and grabbed six rebounds, one short of his career best. Stringer also had a career high in steals with five. On the down side, Stringer missed eight of his 11 field goal attempts.
Rhode Island, which was at a height disadvantage inside, outrebounded LSU 48-32. In addition, the Rams grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. Rhode Island made 44 percent of its 3-point shots (7-of-16), while the Tigers connected on just 29 percent of their 3-point attempts (4-of-14). LSU did force 22 turnovers - 19 the result of its steals - and turned them into 24 points. The Rams shot a slightly higher percentage from the field at 45 percent (26-of-58), while the Tigers made 42 percent of their field goal attempts (27-of-64).
LSU started its usual lineup - O'Bryant, Mickey, Jarell Martin, Stringer and Hickey. . .O'Bryant was benched for the first 12 minutes of the second half. In the first half, O'Bryant was 4-of-11 from the field and had no rebounds. In his eight second-half minutes, he made his only field goal attempt and grabbed three rebounds. O'Bryant finished the game with 11 points and those three rebounds. . .Martin rode the bench for most of the second half as he was on the court for only five minutes. He ended the game with eight points and two rebounds. All but three of Martin's points came in the first five minutes of the game. . .Hickey was his usual up-and-down self. He missed seven of his ten field goal attempts. Hickey, who was 2-of-6 on 3-pointers, did contribute five rebounds, three assists and three steals. . .Coleman missed eight of his ten field goal attempts, including all three of his 3-point shots. Coleman did register a career-high five steals. . .Morgan played 18 minutes while scoring his five points. . .Tim Quarterman and John Odo played only five minutes and three minutes, respectively. . .Stringer is now No. 19 on LSU's all-time steals list with 111. He passed up Shaquille O'Neal, Jamie Brandon, Collis Temple III and Ronald Dupree on Saturday. Stringer also moved past Wayne Sims into 31st place on the Tigers' all-time scoring list with 1,114 points. . .The loss ended LSU's five-game winning streak. The Tigers' longest winning streak under coach Johnny Jones is six games. . .LSU was outrebounded for the fourth time this season. However, the Tigers had won the previous three games in which they had fewer boards. . .Matthews, a freshman, was the leading scorer for the Rams with 21 points. Biruta had a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Munford had 17 points and six rebounds. Biggie Minnis committed eight turnovers, but he did have six assists. . .Rhode Island, which lost by a combined 59 points at SMU (89-58) and Arizona (87-59), finished its non-conference schedule at 9-6. The Rams begin Atlantic 10 Conference play Tuesday against Saint Louis. . .Two of LSU's three defeats have come against A-10 teams. The Tigers also lost at Massachusetts. LSU finished its non-conference schedule with a 9-3 mark. . .The paid attendance was 8,789. The actual crowd was approximately 5,300 - the highest of the season.
FROM THE LOCKERROOM
Coach Johnny Jones
"Rhode island played a very tough basketball game from tip to finish. They stuck to their game plan in terms of taking the shots that they needed, making big plays, getting second-chance opportunities and grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. They made a lot of hustle plays. We came out not as sharp as we needed. We battled in the first half, but we settled a little bit too much. We didn't make the tough plays in the first half. In the first ten minutes of the second half, our guys did an excellent job of getting back into the game and staying close. Rhode Island did more of the same. They knocked down tough 3s, played well inside and wound up getting out of here with a victory."
"We had several options on the last play. We wanted to look for Stringer coming off the screen at the bottom. It wasn't available. We wanted to try to find Johnny on the post because he should have been one-on-one if everyone else was covered. Johnny was possibly open, but we didn't make that play. We should have gone to the elbow next, but we didn't get the ball there. We failed to execute the play we needed. Hickey came off the screen and shot a three when we were down by two. He possibly could have taken it to the basket."
"Johnny wasn't doing what we needed him to do in the first half. There were guys on our bench who were willing to do those things. They showed it in the second half when we were able to make a run. We're hopeful that Johnny can understand and get better at what we need him to do. We weren't putting enough pressure on the basket in the first half. Johnny is big and strong enough to make the plays we need. He settled too much on the perimeter for jump shots. He is a much higher percentage shooter in the paint and he didn't show it."
"I could have taken up a little more time on the last shot. It was a tough loss. We just have to step up. It is going to be a bigger game Tuesday against Tennessee. We have to close out games and finish strong. We can't come out flat like we did. If we come out flat, we will get beat every time. It catches up with you at the end of the game. It is all about starting early and taking care of business early.
"It comes down to a lack of execution. We didn't get stops like we needed down the stretch. They kept coming down and we were just trading baskets. We can't have that. We have to get stops consistently to beat teams."
LSU will play host to Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Vols (9-4) beat NAIA Tusculum 98-51 on Saturday. The LSU-Tennessee game will be broadcast on ESPN.