The University of Richmond Spiders men’s basketball team could not capitalize on a 16-8 run early in the second half and eventually let the game get away from them, losing 73-51 in a matchup of two Sweet Sixteen teams from last year’s NCAA tournament.
The University of Richmond Spiders men’s basketball team could not capitalize on a 16-8 run early in the second half that cut a double digit deficit against the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams. The Spiders down only two points at 45-47 eventually let the game get away, losing 73-51 in a matchup of two Sweet Sixteen teams from last year’s NCAA tournament. In front of a sold out, raucous crowd at the Siegel Center Friday night, the Spiders missed 11 of their last 12 field goal attempts and scored just six total points over the final 11 minutes. Foul trouble sent the Rams to the charity stripe 16 times (making 11) during that same stretch, helping lead to VCU’s overwhelming 26-6 surge to end the game.
It was clear from the opening possessions of the 66th meeting between the Richmond city rivals that the Spiders would have their hands full with the suffocating defensive pressure from VCU’s backcourt, which caused the Spiders to shoot only 36% from the field and just 20% from behind the arc. As a result of the Rams’ consistent half-court press and trap defense ball control was a problem throughout the contest for the Spiders, and they were forced into a season high 17 turnovers–which resulted in 21 VCU points.
17 of Cedrick Lindsay’s career high 22 points (7-10 FG, 7-8 FT) came in the first half, keeping the Spiders within striking distance for most of the game. However, VCU’s second half defensive adjustments forced Lindsay to settle for contested three pointers while passing off, instead of looking to create around the rim as he had successfully done throughout the first 20 minutes. This effort to better involve his teammates might have worked had the rest of the Spiders’ starters combined for more than just 12 total points, or if the remainder of the team had shot better than 27% from the floor. Kendall Anthony contributed 13 points off the bench but struggled with his shot, making only 5 of 18 field goal attempts. The Rams countered Lindsay’s game high performance with a much more balanced attacked: finishing with three players in double figures. VCU seemed to hit clutch shots when they mattered most, forcing the Spiders to play catch-up from the 5:53 minute mark in the first half until the final horn sounded.
When asked what he learned about his team in such a lopsided loss, Spiders’ coach Chris Mooney responded, “I really love our team, and we’ve got a chance to get better and be pretty good; but we’ve got room to improve.” The Richmond Spiders will get their chance to do so next Wednesday, December 14th, as the Iona Gaels–the nation’s top scoring team (90.5 PPG)–visit the Robins Center for a key non-conference matchup. The loss to VCU drops the Spiders to a 6-3 overall record, snapping their previous 3-game win streak.
Despite last year’s big victory against VCU at the Robins Center, snapping the Rams’ 6-game win streak in the rivalry, the Spiders’ loss Friday night marked the 7th losing effort in the last 8 tries in the Black and Blue Classic. VCU holds a firm overall lead in the series, 41-25.
The Spiders’ have struggled for most of the early season in with Assist to Turnover ratio (0.9). The problems continued Friday night as the Spiders only dished out five assists against 17 critical turnovers.