Richmond holds off late, furious Loyola Chicago rally, wins 75-73
With the win, the Spiders moved to 6-1 on the season, matching their best record through seven games in 16 seasons under Chris Mooney.
Francis’s 27 points were two shy of his career high and the most by any Spider in a game this season.
“I was trying to use my quickness to my advantage – my change of pace,” Francis said. “Trying to keep them off balance because sometimes they’re probably looking for a jumper so I just wanted to start off the game attacking right off the bat.”
The Spiders led 37-22 lead at the break as Loyola Chicago, which averaged just 11.8 turnovers per game entering Friday, turned the ball over 15 times in the first half, leading to 18 Richmond points.
UR led by as many as 19, after a three-pointer by Francis gave the Spiders a 60-41 lead with 9:11 to play. But the Ramblers came alive from three-point range, using a trio of threes by guard Braden Norris to cut the lead to 12 at 64-52 with 6:20 remaining.
A minute later, the Ramblers pulled within single digits with another three-pointer, this time from Lucas Williamson, to make the score 64-56 with 5:16 to play.
Down the stretch, Norris and Spiders forward Grant Golden traded baskets until another three from Lucas Williamson cut Richmond’s lead to three at 71-68 with 32 seconds left.
The Ramblers sent Gilyard to the foul line on the ensuing possession, where he hit a pair of free throws to increase the lead to five.
With 11 seconds remaining, Gilyard was called for a foul on a Loyola three-point attempt. Following three straight Ramblers free throws, Loyola fouled Blake Francis, who hit a pair of free throws to make the score 75-71 with 10 seconds to play.
A layup by the Ramblers at the buzzer ended the scoring.
After the game, Spiders head coach Chris Mooney addressed the Spiders second-half performance.
“We extended the lead and got ourselves up by 20, but I thought we didn’t score well enough from there on,” Mooney said. “We didn’t get into the bonus with 10 seconds left in the game and we didn’t score consistently enough.”
Francis’s 27 points were the most by any Spider since Gilyard scored 29 against seventh-ranked Dayton on January 25 last season.
Gilyard added a season-high 19 points on Friday as well as four steals. Francis and Gilyard combined to play 78 out of a possible 80 minutes for the Spiders.
Golden scored 14 points for the second straight game, hitting seven of his nine shots from the field.
Richmond will play its final scheduled non-conference game on Tuesday at the Robins Center against Hofstra. Tip time is scheduled for 2 p.m. The game will be televised by NBC Sports Washington and streamed on ESPN Plus.