Jarvis Garrett added 15 and Andre Berry 12 for the Rams (5-2), who led 42-31 at the half and finished with five players in double figures.
Russell, a freshman, had his second consecutive 20-point game, which included three free throws with 4:43 to play after Providence (6-2), had closed within three. The Friars got within three on several more occasions but the Rams protected the lead by finishing 9 of 11 from the foul line in the second half.
Alpha Diallo had 17 points, on 8-of-12 shooting, and grabbed seven rebounds for Providence, which shot 55 percent from the floor (27 of 49) but was just 10 of 21 from the foul line. Kyron Cartwright had four assists and became the seventh Friar to reach 500 in a career.
Rhode Island shot 42 percent but managed 10 more shots and was 20 of 23 from the line.
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