Kingston, R.I. - Four Rhode Island players scored in double figures as Hofstra fell to the Rams, 85-73, in a TicketCity Legends Classic sub-regional round matchup on Friday at the Thomas M. Ryan Center.
Senior guard Mike Moore set a season high with 25 points and senior forward Nathaniel Lester recorded 22 points and seven rebounds. But the Pride fell to 2-3 in losing for the second straight time.
Junior forward Bryant Crowder scored 13 points off three dunks and grabbed six rebounds before fouling out in his Hofstra debut, yet the Pride dropped to 0-2 in the Legends Classic after also losing to Oregon State almost two weeks prior. Rhode Island improved to 1-3.
The Pride struggled in the frontcourt as Rhode Island forwards Jonathan Holton (20 points) and Nikola Malesevic (18 points) helped the Rams forge a 23-17 advantage in second-chance points.
Lester and Moore gave the Pride a chance to win after Hofstra went down by 19 in the second half. The duo accounted for 47 points and both registered 20-plus points in the same game for the second time this year and first since the season-opening win versus Long Island University.
Crowder made an impact in his first game, putting the Pride within 59-56 with nearly 10 minutes left on an uncontested one-handed slam. His dunk galvanized Pride bench, though Hofstra would not get any closer as Rhode Island kept it a multiple-possession game till the final buzzer.
Crowder scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half and hauled in logging 18 minutes off the bench in his first Division I game.
Down 73-69, Rhode Island drew back-to-back fouls and hit three free throws for a seven-point advantage with 3:20 left. Orion Outerbridge (11 points) then drilled a left-wing jumper, ending any hopes of a comeback. Jamal Wilson contributed 15 points for the Rams.
Rhode Island surged to a fast start, going on a 16-0 run to open a 22-6 lead almost nine minutes in. Using heavy pressure on inbounds plays, the Rams kept Hofstra off the scoreboard for almost five minutes. With the effective full-court press, the Rams were able to capitalize on multiple chances, highlighted by Holton's two-handed slam dunk to complete an alley-oop during the stretch.
Moore lifted Hofstra's spirits late in the opening half, scoring 12 consecutive points in less than two minutes. Moore drilled a left-wing three pointer while drawing a foul and hit a free throw for the Pride's first four-point play of the season.
In the opening half, Moore hit 4-of-5 three-pointers to help cut the halftime deficit to 45-39 after Hofstra went down as much as 19.
Junior guard Stevie Mejia, who played two seasons for URI, scored three points and tallied two assist and a rebound against his former team.
Mejia appeared in all 36 games for Rhode Island in 2009-10, compiling 127 assists against just 46 turnovers in helping the Rams post a 26-10 record and an appearance in the semifinals in the NIT. Mejia emerged as one of the team's most reliable offensive weapons off the bench, finishing first in the Atlantic 10 Conference and eighth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Hofstra will next be in action on Saturday when they face Cleveland State from the Ryan Center at 2:30 p.m. The game will mark the first time the Pride and Vikings have ever squared off. Cleveland State is coming off a 27-9 season, a first-place finish in the Horizon League and a NIT appearance. The Vikings (5-0) scored five points in the final six seconds to beat Boston University, 63-62, on Friday.