Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley has come to VCU in the past with a young team and seen it get drummed.
He was happy to return the favor when he returned with the senior-laden and 22nd-ranked Rams on Friday night.
E.C. Matthews scored 18 points, Jared Terrell had 16 and URI beat VCU 81-68 for its 14th consecutive victory.
“I thought we were really, really sharp, particular our passing,” Hurley said. “We’re just a veteran team that took advantage of our experience. We out-seniored them, out-experienced them.”
Cyril Langevine added 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for the visiting Rams (19-3, 11-0 Atlantic 10) in a matchup of teams with the same nickname. The winning streak is the program’s longest since the 1939-40 Rams won 15 straight.
Rhode Island also stretched its road winning streak in conference games to 11, the longest such streak in program history.
“It’s a lot of things,” said Matthews, one of four seniors in the starting lineup. “Being resilient. The non-conference games we had earlier in the season is why we play the way we do now. Having older guys, we kind of set the tone.”
Justin Tillman scored 22 points to lead VCU (14-9, 6-4), which dropped out of a three-way tie for second place in the conference. Sean Mobley added 15, all in the first half. The home Rams trailed just 41-38 at halftime, but couldn’t overcome being beaten 47-31 on the boards and outscored 26-6 on second-chance points as URI gradually took control after halftime.
“We felt they were going to try to come out and bully us and control the game and come out hard from the start, so we tried to come out with energy,” Tillman said. “I thought we did that in the first half. We kept letting them get second-chance rebounds and they were scoring off those.”
Rhode Island scored 13 of the first 20 points after halftime to open a 54-45 lead, its biggest of the game at that point. Consecutive baskets by VCU closed the gap to 54-49, but Rhode Island scored 10 of the next 15 points and VCU never got closer than six again.
The first half was played at a breakneck pace, with URI pulling away from a 27-all tie by scoring nine straight points. Mobley then hit three 3-pointers in a span of less than two minutes to keep VCU close.
Pac-12: Colorado holds Utah to a season-low in points
McKinley Wright scored 21 points, Lucas Siewert had 13 and Colorado held Utah to a season-low point total in beating the Utes 67-55 on Friday night.
George King added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Colorado (13-10, 5-6 Pac-12), which snapped a three-game skid as well as a seven-game losing streak to Utah (13-9, 5-6).
It was Wright’s fifth 20-plus point game this season and first since he also had 21 points against Iowa on Dec. 22.
Utah did not have a player score in double figures and was outshot by the Buffaloes 43.1 to 35.1 percent. David Collette’s eight points led the Utes, whose previous low point total came in an 85-58 loss to UNLV on Nov. 22.
Utah got consecutive baskets from Justin Bibbins and Jayce Johnson to pull to 34-27 but Siewert then hit a pair of 3s on successive possessions and D’Shawn Schwartz offset a 3-pointer by Utah’s Donnie Tillman with one of his own, putting the Buffaloes up by 13.
The Buffaloes stretched their lead to 52-35 on a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws by King. Colorado maintained its double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
Colorado closed the first half with a 10-0 burst over the last 4:46 of the period to take a 27-20 lead.
Wright touched off the flurry with a 3-pointer and capped it with a turnaround jumper that just beat the first-half buzzer.