March 17, 2010
Box Score |
KINGSTON, R.I. -
Every time Northwestern made a run, Rhode Island had an answer. A 10-point second-half deficit proved to be too much for the Wildcats to overcome as they saw their season come to an end with a 76-64 loss in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Michael Thompson scored a game-high 24 points for Northwestern which saw its season draw to a close with a 20-14 record.
"This was very disappointing," said Thompson. "We think we accomplished a lot this season and we wanted to make a strong run in the NIT."
URI (24-9) jumped out to an early eight-point advantage behind eight points by center Will Martell as the Rams surged in front 18-10 eight minutes and 30 seconds into the contest.
But a 3-pointer by Thompson ignited 12-2 run by the Wildcats, capped by Kyle Rowley's first collegiate dunk which gave NU a 22-20 advantage with 5:51 remaining before the break.
However, Akeem Richmond caught fire in helping Rhode Island make a late run. The freshman drilled four of five 3-point attempts and scored 14 points off the bench to help the hosts take a 37-30 lead at the intermission.
Both teams nailed six treys over the opening 20 minutes of play, but the difference came at the free throw line where the Rams converted on seven of eight tries while Northwestern didn't manage a single attempt.
URI extended its advantage to eight early in the second half, but a six-point run got the Wildcats back within to at 41-39 on a lay-in by Shurna. The hosts answered with eight in a row to take their largest lead of the game at 49-39.
A triple and a lay-up by Thompson and a lay-in by Drew Crawford helped Northwestern close back within four points.
Rhode Island continued to have the answer, though. Delroy James scored on the other end and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but the Rams got the rebound and James drained a 3-pointer to push URI's lead right back up to nine.
Thompson answered with a triple on the other end to get the Wildcats within six, but that would be as close as Northwestern would get.
Crawford contributed his second consecutive double-double, recording 12 points and 12 rebounds. Shurna chipped in with 15 points.
URI converted 26 of 37 free throw attempts in the contest to seven of 10 for NU.
Said head coach Bill Carmody: "I was proud of the season we had, but we don't want to be in the NIT next year, to tell you the truth."