Led by Kendall Anthony’s 21 points, the Richmond Spiders followed up their crucial win against the Dayton Flyers last Saturday with a shocking upset of A–10 leading UMass, 58–55, at the Robins Center Wednesday night.
It was Kendall Anthony’s party—everyone else was just invited.
For 30 minutes of Wednesday night’s contest against the highly ranked and regarded UMass Minutemen (16–2, 3–1), Kendall Anthony single-handedly led his Spiders to an eight-point lead with just over five minutes remaining in the second half. If there was a big shot needed, you knew to whom the ball was going. If there was a big shot made, one needed not even look up to know who hit it. Kendall Anthony provided nearly everything Richmond needed to pull off the first Spider upset of a ranked opponent since last year’s thriller against cross-town rivals, VCU.
The Minutemen would cut the Spider lead to just two as the raucously loud Robins Center crowd witnessed an instant classic unfold over the final two minutes. But Richmond continued to do what it had done all game long—handle UMass’s full court pressure, play excellent half court defense, and make shots when it counted the most. With a final chance to send the game into overtime, Minutemen senior Chaz Williams saw his three-point attempt fall short just before the Richmond Rowdies hastily found their way onto the Robins Center floor to begin celebrating.
From the opening tip, the matchup to watch was between the formidable Minutemen offense, tallying nearly 80 points per game and relying on the open court for transition buckets, and Richmond’s stout defense, holding opponents to 65 points per game on 40% shooting and just 28% from behind the arc. Needless to say, the Spiders’ defense was excellent throughout the contest, holding UMass to a meager 27% shooting in the first half and 39% for the game (including 14% from three) while giving up only two fast break points. Chaz Williams, UMass’s leading scorer averaging 16.3 points per game, was kept in check all night and allowed only eight points on 2–11 shooting, including 0–4 from range. Before their loss to the Spiders, the Minutemen had scored fewer than 62 points only once this season (55 in a loss to Florida State). It seemed as if Richmond forced UMass deep into the shot clock on nearly ever possession and, as a result, forced the Minutemen into bad perimeter shots.
After Anthony’s 13-point show in the first half, the Spiders came out of the locker frightfully flat, giving all the game’s momentum to the Minutemen. Richmond turned the ball over in five of its first six second-half possessions, while UMass went on an 8–2 run to turn a 27–22 Spider lead into a 30–29 Spider deficit. Who else but Anthony hit a huge three-pointer to give the Spiders back the lead, 32–30. Every time UMass attempted to close the gap throughout the second half, Anthony responded with incredible poise and confidence in his shot, most of which found the bottom of the net.
The Spiders would never relinquish the lead after staving off UMass’s early second-half run. However, Richmond’s late second half surge was the result of a much more balanced and aggressive attack from Cedrick Lindsay (11 PTS, 4–15 FG, 0–2 3FG), Derrick Williams (7 PTS, 2–4 FG, 1–1 3FG), and Deion Taylor (5 PTS, 2–4 FG, 1–3 3FG). Lindsay scored nine of his eleven points in the second half, sharing some of the burden Anthony had put upon himself throughout most of the game to keep Richmond on top. Despite not connecting on a field goal over the final 3:46 of regulation, the Spiders’ incredibly stingy defense—Richmond’s calling card all season long—held it together just long enough to secure the upset and catapult the Spiders into their toughest stretch of the conference season.
Top Performer: Kendall Anthony
Kendall Anthony stole the show on Wednesday night, hands down. He tied his season high with 21 points in 36 minutes, but undoubtedly had his most important and well-timed performance of the season. Kendall never shies away from his shot, averaging nearly eleven shots per game. But against the Minutemen, Anthony’s efficiency and shot selection was what set the tone not only for his teammates but for the noisy Robins Center crowd. UMass had their own 5-foot–8 offensive pistol in Chaz Williams, but Anthony got the best of him and the rest of the Minutemen with an offensive showing that Spiders’ fans will remember for quite some time.
- Home court advantage–After Wednesday’s upset over #13 UMass, the Spiders are now 5–1 in their previous six games against ranked opponents in the Robins Center.
- Not too distant memory–Richmond’s last win over a top–15 opponent was in a 65–54 win over then #8 ranked Purdue in 2010. Richmond would go on to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that season.
- A–10 reputation–Richmond is now 49–27 vs. A–10 opponents over the last five seasons and has won more games in the A–10 over the last six seasons than any other current conference member (61—tied with St. Louis).
- Close calls–The Spiders have had four of their games decided by three points or less and have managed to claim victory in nine of thirteen games decided by eleven points or less.
- Too hot to handle–Kendall Anthony has been on fire as of late, scoring in double figures in each of his last eleven games, averaging 16.2 points per game while sinking 32 three-pointers over that span.
The Spiders now face the toughest part of their schedule thus far this season, but look to continue building on their recent successes at home against St. Joseph’s (13–5, 3–1) on Saturday evening at 4:00 PM. The game can be seen locally on NBC Sports affiliates and heard on ESPN 950. Richmond will then hit the road and visit the A–10’s current leader #19 St. Louis (1/29) before returning back to Richmond to renew their cross-town rivalry with the Rams of VCU at the Siegel Center (2/1).
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