augusta free press news

Gilyard sets career DI steals record in Richmond’s win at Northern Iowa

Jacob Gilyard
Jacob Gilyard. Photo courtesy University of Richmond Athletics.

With just over two minutes remaining, Northern Iowa’s Cole Henry rolled to the basket and found himself wide open, poised to cut the Panthers deficit to eight with an uncontested layup. But after playing more than 58 minutes without a steal, Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard, who entered the game leading Division I with 3.4 steals per game this season, was due.

Gilyard left his man and deftly slapped the ball away from Henry before collecting the loose ball and dribbling up court, this time as the all-time steals leader in Division I. The steal was the 386th of Gilyard’s career, breaking a tie with Providence’s John Linehan (1997-2002) for the most in NCAA Division I history.

The Spiders bench leapt to its feet and cheered as Gilyard was fouled, sending the game to a media timeout as a crowd of more than 15 family and friends that made the four-and-a-half hour drive up from Gilyard’s hometown of Kansas City celebrated and held up the numbers 3-8-6.

“It was definitely big time, to hear my family roar and cheer after I got the steal was huge,” said Gilyard. “I’m just happy to have my family here to see it.”

“I felt a little hectic towards the end of the game. Like, ‘Man, am I gonna get it? Am I gonna get it?’ I tried not to force it though. I’m happy it happened how it did. I’m just happy it was a huge time to get a steal. I think it would have been a bucket for them and would’ve cut the lead to [eight].”

On the Spiders ensuing possession, Grant Golden found Nathan Cayo on a back-door pass for a left-handed layup, pushing UR’s lead to 58-46, its largest of the game, and securing a second-straight road win for Richmond.

Richmond struggled to find an offensive rhythm for most of the first half and trailed by five with 1:38 remaining before halftime. But Isaiah Wilson followed a free throw by Cayo with a corner three-pointer with 28 seconds on the clock. With the Panthers holding for the last shot, Tyler Burton stole the ball from UNI’s A.J. Green near midcourt and laid it in just before the halftime buzzer to give Richmond a 28-27 lead at the break despite shooting 31 percent from the field (11-35) and 18 percent from three-point range (3-17).

“We had a great finish to the first half, but mostly we were fairly unimpressive offensively,” said Spider coach Chris Mooney. “Most of that was because it’s hard to get transition [points] on them and they’re really, really in the lane tightly and we had open shots and we were 3-17 from three. We just talked about, ‘hey – we’ll make more shots in the second half’ and finally I think that broke loose a little bit.”

Richmond started to find the bottom of the basket during a 10-1 run midway through the second half, allowing UR to build a 49-38 lead with 9:51 left in the game. From that point, the Spiders had an answer to every move by UNI, never allowing the Panthers to pull closer than six down the stretch en route to a 60-52 win.

Tyler Burton led Richmond with a game-high 26 points, the second-highest total of his career and giving him a combined 56 points in UR’s two games in Iowa this season.

Richmond held UNI, which was averaging 75 points per game and shooting 39 percent from three-point range prior to Sunday, to its lowest point total of the season and hassled the Panthers three-point shooters, holding them to three makes in 22 attempts.

Green, who was coming off 30 points in back-to-back games, finished with six points on 2-12 shooting after being hounded by Richmond’s Isaiah Wilson and Dji Bailey for much of the game.

“To hold A.J. Green to six points, we did a phenomenal job on defense. It was a team effort,” said Gilyard, who broke the career D-I record for steals in his ninth game of the season after losing a minimum of 10 scheduled games due to COVID-19 over the last two seasons.

“There are only so many statistics in basketball,” said Mooney of Gilyard’s new status as the Division I career steals leader. “To have more than anyone who ever played the game, it’s hard for it even to register because it’s such a significant accomplishment. I would say that, like today’s, many of them have seemed big and important and deflating to the other team.”

Gilyard and the Spiders will return to action Saturday at the Robins Center against Toledo. Tip-time is scheduled for 6 PM and the game will be televised on MASN and ESPN Plus.

augusta free press
augusta free press