In the inaugural game of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the 7th seeded Rhode Island Rams defeated the 10th seeded Oklahoma Sooners 83-78 in the Midwest Regional.
The first half was controlled mostly by the Sooners, as Trae Young shot an efficient 4-4 from the field, scoring 10 points. Oklahoma led 35-31 at half, and Rhode Island stars Jared Terrell and E.C. Matthews were, for the most part, ineffective, but Danny Hurley’s team did enough to hang around with the Sooners.
In the second half, Oklahoma took a 42-35 lead with 17:42 left, but Rhode Island quickly cut the lead down to 1 following a Jared Terrell 3 pointer.
E.C. Matthews hit a go-ahead 3 to give the Rams a 52-50 lead with 9:07 left, and immediately after Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell stole the inbounds pass away from Trae Young and splashed a 3, giving the Rams a 5 point lead. Russell finished the game with 15 points, hitting 3-6 shots from deep.
With all the momentum leaning towards the Rams, Trae Young started to take over the game. Young hit a go-ahead 3 to give OU a 67-66 lead with 2:07 left. Young then drew a foul with :15 seconds left and hit 2 free throws to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, it was all E.C. Matthews. Down 1, Matthews hit another go-ahead 3 with 1:50 left and followed it up with a dagger 3 with :31 seconds to give the Rams a 5 point lead.
With the win, the 7th seeded Rams will face the winner of the Duke/Iona game Saturday (time TBA). The Atlantic 10 also improves to 2-0 in the tournament with St. Bonaventure defeating UCLA in the first four Tuesday night.