PHILADELPHIA — Thorr Bjorn spent the moments leading up to Wednesday night’s tip at Hagan Arena crafting a statement.

The University of Rhode Island’s athletic director was preparing to announce a one-game suspension for senior guard Jeff Dowtin, a penalty imposed by the NCAA. The Rams self-reported a violation involving Dowtin’s participation in an unsanctioned charity game over the summer.

“We got notified early in the week about that,” Bjorn said. “We started looking into it and filed a violation with suggested penalties. The standard for penalties for playing in an unsanctioned game is 1-for-1.”

URI’s compliance department received a picture from an unnamed source showing Dowtin in attendance at the game. The Rams had no legal or procedural recourse in terms of appealing and opted to have Dowtin sit out Wednesday's 71-61 victory over Saint Joseph’s. Dowtin will be eligible to return when URI hosts La Salle at the Ryan Center on Saturday.

“Certainly questioning the penalty and the severity for something like that, but we’re going to follow it and honor it,” Bjorn said. “God forbid we play an ineligible player and have to take away a victory down the road.”

Dowtin had played in 53 straight games for the Rams, the longest active streak in the program. He entered averaging 13.8 points and with just 16 turnovers in 527 minutes played. Jacob Toppin earned the start in Dowtin’s place while Tyrese Martin played 38 minutes and Fatts Russell logged 37 in the backcourt.

“I don’t really want to get into that right now,” URI coach David Cox said. “I want to celebrate this victory — I thought it was an awesome road victory.”

Happy homecoming

Russell continued to torch his hometown teams through another superb performance on Wednesday.

The junior guard’s 41 points during his last visit to this venue were the most scored by a Rams player in a true road game. URI improved to 4-0 in Russell’s four trips to play the Hawks and Explorers, and he’s averaging an even 24 points on 47% shooting. Russell left upwards of 60 tickets for friends and family members.

“I guess I’m pretty popular around here,” Russell said with a smile.

Russell starred during his prep days at city public power Imhotep Charter. He found familiar faces on the opposing bench in three city natives and two fellow Panthers. Chereef Knox is a freshman forward with Saint Joseph’s and Dahmir Bishop is a top-100 recruit who left Xavier after just one semester to make his way home.

“Dahmir — we wanted him,” Russell said. “But he made a good decision coming here.”

Around the rim

It was a doubleheader sweep for the Rams on Wednesday. The URI women grinded their way to a 49-47 victory in the opener behind a game-high 24 points from Nicole Jorgensen. The Rams improved to 9-7 overall and moved to 2-2 in league play. ... Ryan Daly was the lone member of the Hawks to reach double figures, closing with 21 points. Daly went 8-for-16 from the field while his teammates staggered to a 15-for-46 finish. ... URI finished just 3-for-13 from 3-point range, recording all three makes in the second half. Russell closed 3-for-5 from distance.