MBB vs WIU4 (copy)

Seneca Knight loses the ball during the Redbirds' season opener against Western Illinois Nov. 7. 

GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman — For the second-straight game, Illinois State men's basketball's second half struggles proved costly as the Redbirds fell 57-44 to Rhode Island to go winless at the Cayman Islands Classic. 

Offenses struggled early and often on the final day of the event as the teams would combine for just eight points through 4:41 into the first media timeout. 

Five of those points came from senior forward Kendall Lewis who struggled through the first two games of the week with just 10 total points. 

In the loss, Lewis would finish as ISU's leading scorer with 14 points despite shooting just 3-10 from the field. 

Outside of Lewis' early production, the Redbirds' offense struggled early by shooting just 1-7 through the first 8:32. However, the Rams faced the same struggles as they would shoot just 2-11 as a team over that stretch for five points. 

A bigger problem for the URI offense could be seen in the first-half turnover numbers. When the first-half buzzer sounded, the Rams had already stacked up nine turnovers with the Redbirds converting 15 points off them. 

Despite all that, the Rams were able to put together a late 8-0 run to take a 24-22 lead into the break. 

The Rams took that momentum into the second half as they rode a 12-5 run into the first media timeout to begin pulling away from ISU. 

A large part of URI's 20-5 run could be seen in the rebounding category. In the game, the Rams would out-rebound the Redbirds 47-28 overall and 19-11 on offensive rebounds. 

However, the Redbirds would not go down without a fight as they put together an 8-2 run capped off by a big Seneca Knight three to cut into the deficit.

ISU's offense went silent after that run as the Redbirds could not find the bottom of the net from anywhere on the court.

In the second half, ISU shot just 5-21 from the field compared to 11-29 for URI. 

While the Rams did not find much more success in the half, their defense did enough to keep the Redbirds at bay and secure the win. 

Malachi Poindexter and Colton Sandage each finished with eight points for the Redbirds in the loss. 

Brayon Freeman led all scorers with 21 points for the Rams followed by 18 from Ishmael Leggett. 

SCOTT PREROST is Sports Editor for The Vidette. Prerost can be conactacted at swprero@ilstu.edu. Follow Prerost on Twitter at @Scotty_Prerost   


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