Everything about the University of Rhode Island’s final possession in Saturday’s game was “perfect,” said Hurley.

Well, almost perfect.

Fouled after catching a cross-court pass from Rams guard T.J. Buchanan, Gilvydas Biruta went to the foul line to shoot two with 0.7 seconds left in overtime.

The junior forward proceeded to make both free throws, but there was only one glitch. URI coach Dan Hurley wanted Biruta to make only one of them. Hurley didn’t want to give George Mason the chance to turn around and make a miracle shot off a similar inbounds play at the other end of the court.

Biruta did appear to try to miss the second free throw, lining a shot at the basket. But somehow it went in anyway.

“We pleaded with Gil to miss the second one, and he somehow managed to throw that one in there,” said Hurley with a smile, “which I think that’s ironic that we’ve lost games through the year because we couldn’t make free throws, and then we tried to miss it [and] we made it.”

E.C. Matthews made sure George Mason didn’t get the chance for any late-game heroics, stealing the ball from the Patriots’ Bryon Allen near halfcourt as time ran out to clinch the 71-69 victory for the Rams.
Reischel made a difference

A quick look at Jarelle Reischel’s stat line may show that the sophomore contributed just one field goal and one of two free throws to the Rams’ win. Examine his line a little more closely, said Hurley, and the 6-foot-6 forward contributed considerably more than that in his 17 minutes off the bench.

“We can look and say, ‘Oh well, he only had three points,’” said Hurley, “but he had four rebounds. He played excellent defense on Sherrod Wright at times. He played excellent defense on Allen at times. He kept both those guys well under their scoring averages. Anyone who knows anything about basketball understands [the value] that these guys [bring] that can blend in, help you rebound, [make] deflections, rotations, things that folks that don’t really understand basketball have no appreciation for.
The right thing to do

After going with the same starting lineup for the last five games, Hurley made a slight change, giving junior guard Buchanan his first start of the season in place of Biggie Minnis.

After averaging 20.4 minutes per game through the first 18 games, Buchanan played 35 minutes, finishing with four points, four assists and two rebounds.