Rhode Island snaps skid, beats James Madison 79-60
ORLANDO, Fla.—Rhode Island entered Thursday night's game with James Madison on an eight-game losing streak and without its leading scorer. The Rams responded with a 79-60 victory over James Madison in the UCF Classic behind 22 points from Orion Outerbridge.
The Rams (2-11) will face host Central Florida in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday, while the Dukes (6-4) will play Stetson in a 9:30 p.m. consolation game.
Outerbridge, a 6-foot-9 freshman from Boston, had two 3-pointers in the Rams' 16-4 run to start the game and 16 first-half points, as Rhode Island led from start to finish and withstood many James Madison runs.
Rhode Island came in as the nation's fourth-worst defense against field-goal shooting (50.2 percent) but limited James Madison to 34.5 percent (21 of 60) from the field. A defense that had been giving up an average of 79 points had its best night of the season.
"I'm just happy for the players," said Rhode Island coach Jim Baron. "It's been a tough road, but the team responded and stepped up tonight."
Transfer Billy Baron scored 17 points and Jonathan Holton 12 for the Rams, playing their first game without leading scorer Jamal Wilson, who has been dismissed from the team for violating team rules.
Billy and Andre (Malone) are big pieces in the puzzle," Baron said. "We're putting together a new chemistry with a lot of young players."
James Madison closed to within 38-30 in the opening minute of the second half, but a 3-pointer by Andre Malone put the Rams back up by double figures, and he followed with a dunk to make it 43-30. Rhode Island led by as many as 21 points down the stretch, and the Dukes never got closer than nine points.
"This really feels good. We came together despite our mishaps," said Outerbridge. "I haven't felt this good in a while. It'd be nice if Jamal was here, but I have a good group of guys behind me."
Arman Marks and A.J. Davis each scored 10 points for James Madison, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.