No. 22 Rhode Island puts 12-game winning streak on line

Rhode Island experienced the pressure of playing as a ranked team, pushed to the limit Saturday by Duquesne, and the Rams came through with a 61-58 victory.

Senior guard Stanford Robinson’s last-second 3-pointer won the game for No. 22 Rhode Island, which erased a 15-point deficit with 16:14 left to steal the victory.

The Rams (17-3, 9-0 Atlantic 10) extended their conference winning streak to 17 games. It was also Rhode Island’s 12th straight overall victory, its longest streak since 1941-42.

“We’ve got a huge target on us,” Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said. “You’re playing every two or three days. It’s a grind. You’ve got to be able to will yourself through it.”

The grind continues Tuesday with a game at Massachusetts (10-12, 3-6). The Minutemen have lost four straight games after winning three in a row.

Freshman guard Unique McLean recorded his first career double-double and four Minutemen reached double figures but UMass could not stop Fordham in an 82-69 loss Saturday. Fordham entered with a six-game losing streak.

The Minutemen led at halftime but the Rams used a 19-2 run in the second half to pick up the league win.

McLean had 14 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs along with five assists. Sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins led UMass (10-12, 3-6) with 18 points and five rebounds, while freshman guard Carl Pierre had 17 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Junior forward Malik Hines posted 10 points and seven rebounds for his second straight game in double figures.

“We had some stretches defensively where we looked fatigued and they completely capitalized,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “We had great energy to start the game. Our guys were completely into it. We were a split second late on some rotations in the second half, which led to some 3s for them. Then offensively the ball didn’t go into the basket for stretches. We missed layups. We have to be able to make layups to win on the road.”

UMass shot only 40.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.

Robinson was only 2 for 6 from the field before his winning shot. Senior guard E.C. Matthews seemed to be a wise option after he scored 14 of his team’s 18 points during one stretch in the second half. He finished with a game-high 20 points.

“I thought E.C. Matthews, in the second half, just took over and put a Superman cape on and made huge shots,” Hurley said. “That’s hard to do. That’s the sign of a clutch player.”

Rhode Island shot 55.6 percent from the field in the second half after making only 31 percent in the first half. The Rams made only 4 of 15 shots from 3-point range, with all four coming in the second half on eight attempts.

“Coming off a win — an emotional win at home — it gives me the ammunition I need the next couple of days before we play whoever we play next to tighten things up,” Hurley said. “We got the win, and that feels great, but we’ve got some stuff we’ve got to fix.”