URI advances with 84-72 win over Creighton

Rhode Island guard E.C. Matthews, left, goes to the basket against Creighton guard Khyri Thomas during the first half of a first-round game of the men's NCAA college basketball tournament Sacramento, Calif., Friday, March 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Rams have earned their first NCAA Tournament win in almost two decades.

The 11-seed Rams knocked out the 6-seed Creighton Bluejays by a score of 84-72 Friday afternoon in Sacramento.

“To beat a higher team seed to do it way we did it – so many guys playing well, some of the guys playing great defense – such a great moment for our guys on a national stage represent the great state of Rhode Island and showcase their talent and skills,” said URI head coach Dan Hurley.

Freshman guard Jeff Dowtin led the Rams with 23 points and 5 rebounds while forward Kuran Iverson kicked in 19 points and 4 rebounds.

URI’s free-throw percentage topped 90 percent, with Dowtin and E.C. Matthews each going 10-for-10 and Jared Terrell going 6-for-6. This was a huge advantage over the Jays, who shot just 30 percent from the free-throw line, going 7-for-23.

“We have the whole state of Rhode Island back home watching, we have them here, it’s everything we wanted,” said Matthews. “We are clicking on all cylinders and thankful to play with these group of guys, I can’t ask for anything more.”

“Our confidence is out the roof, our defense picked up and that’s what has been carrying us,” added forward Hassan Martin. “I wouldn’t want to do this with another group of guys. These guys are real confident, not fearing nothing at no times.”

The Rams will square off with 3-seed Oregon Sunday at 7:10 p.m. for a chance to move on to the Sweet 16.

It was URI’s first tournament appearance since 1999 and their first win since 1998.

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