By PAUL GOTHAM
PITTSBURGH, PA — E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell paced an early run, and the Rhode Island Rams took a 40-27 halftime lead over the VCU Rams in the finals of the Atlantic 10 championship Sunday at PPG Paints Arena.
Matthews, who connected on all four of his three-point attempts in the semi-finals, hit his first of three triples to get Rhode Island on the board. Terrell nailed a trey when teammate Jeff Dowtin found him on the break. Kuran Iverson found the range from long distance, and Matthews scored on a drive to give URI a 15-4 lead.
Hassan Martin punctuated an 11-2 run with a slam. URI had its largest lead of the half, 29-12.
VCU’s Doug Brooks connected on two of four three-point attempts in the half. The senior guard sparked a 6-1 spurt with a trey. Jordan Burgess converted one of two free throws to cut URI’s margin to 10 at 31-21.
Terrell sandwiched a Brooks three-point play to close the stanza, and URI took a 40-27 lead going into the locker room.
Matthews led all scorers with 11. Terrell has 10.
Brooks has nine for VCU.
URI, which hit 12 of 20 three-point attempts in their win over Davidson on Saturday, connected on 6 of 13 in the first half.
URI outscored VCU 6-0 on fast break points.
Rhode Island won the only regular season meeting between the two teams, 69-59.
URI is looking for its first A-10 championship since 1999.
VCU, making its fifth straight finals appearance, won the 2015 title.