EditorsNote: adds “La Salle’s” at start of ninth graf
Jeff Dowtin came up with a key steal and hit several clutch free throws late to lift No. 18 Rhode Island over La Salle 95-93 in overtime in Atlantic 10 action Tuesday night at Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia.
Dowtin finished with a career-high 25 points after sinking four free throws in the final five seconds of overtime. La Salle had a chance to take the lead down 91-90 before Dowtin came up with his clutch steal and got fouled.
The win gave the Rams (22-4, 14-1 Atlantic 10) at least a share of their first-ever Atlantic 10 regular-season championship. Rhode Island dropped two spots in the AP Top 25 Poll after a 77-74 loss at St. Bonaventure on Friday snapped its nation-best 16-game winning streak.
B.J. Johnson led all scorers with 31 points and grabbed a career-high 24 rebounds to lead La Salle (11-17, 5-10). Johnson is the first Explorers player with a 20-rebound game since the late Rasual Butler had 20 on Nov. 8, 2001.
La Salle lost for the fourth time in five games.
Dowtin also had seven assists and five boards. Stanford Robinson scored 20 points and snagged seven rebounds, Jared Terrell had 14 points and E.C. Matthews added 13 while Fatts Russell scored 10 off the bench for the Rams.
Saul Phiri finished with 16 points and Miles Brookins contributed a career-high 13 off the bench for the Explorers.
Dowtin made a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining in regulation to put Rhode Island up 81-78.
La Salle’s Pookie Powell was fouled with four seconds to play and made his first free throw but missed the second. Tony Washington rebounded Powell’s second miss and threw it back in to tie it with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.
The Rams’ Jarvis Garrett missed on his heave at the buzzer to force overtime.
Rhode Island led 39-37 at halftime.
The Rams were 74-62 winners in their first meeting of the season with the Explorers on Jan. 3. That loss began a season-worst four-game skid for La Salle.
Rhode Island plays two of its final three regular-season games at home, starting Friday against Dayton. La Salle is at Fordham on Saturday.
—Field Level Media