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Richmond holds on after big first half to knock off UMass

richmond basketballAfter two straight subpar shooting performances, there were times the Richmond Spiders seemingly couldn’t miss in the first half against Massachusetts at the Robins Center Wednesday night. The Spiders shot 65 percent from the field while scoring their most points in a half since March 2020 over the game’s first 20 minutes, racing out to a 50-31 halftime lead over the Minutemen and hanging on for an 80-72 win.

“We opened the game with very good energy,” said coach Chris Mooney of the Spiders, who had four scoring runs of 8-0 or greater in the opening half.

“It was kind of an emphasis to make sure we got off to a good start,” said Jacob Gilyard, who led Richmond with 17 points.

The Spiders used a 9-0 run to erase an early 5-2 lead for the Minutemen, and minutes later a second 9-0 spurt gave Richmond its first double-digit lead, at 20-9 with 12:21 remaining in the 1st half. Back-to-back baskets by Nathan Cayo capped an 8-0 run and pushed the lead to 19 just over seven minutes before halftime, and a three-pointer by Nick Sherod ended another 8-0 run for the Spiders and made the score 46-24 2:25 before halftime.

Richmond led 50-31 at the break, scoring their most points in a half since scoring 50 in the second half of a win over Davidson on March 3, 2020. The Spiders shot 65 percent (22-34) from the field in the first 20 minutes, and were led by Nick Sherod, who came off the bench to score 12 points.

It was the Minutemen who started off hot in the second half, however. A trio of three-pointers by Trent Buttrick keyed an 11-4 UMass run to start the period that cut Richmond’s lead to a dozen. UMass pulled within 10 of the Spiders before a jumper by Grant Golden and an old-fashioned three-point play by Tyler Burton helped Richmond establish some breathing room, giving UR a 74-58 advantage with 6:19 to play.

It would be Richmond’s last field goal, as the Spiders missed their final five shots from the floor. However, a 6-6 performance from the foul line over the game’s final three minutes was enough for the Spiders to secure the win, as UMass was never able to get closer than six down the stretch.

“I don’t think we played as well in the second half but we certainly had a nice big lead and were able to get the win,” said Mooney.

In addition to his team-high 17 points, Gilyard added four steals and 10 assists, securing his fifth career double-double. “There’s a confidence you get playing with him because you understand he’ll get you the ball when you’re open. I thought he did a great job of that tonight,” said Mooney.

Gilyard’s lone three-pointer came at the 13:16 mark of the second half and was the 270th of his Spiders career, tying Kendall Anthony’s school record.

Nathan Cayo added 14 points on 7-9 shooting for Richmond, while Tyler Burton contributed 12 points and team-high 13 rebounds for his eighth career double-double.

Grant Golden finished with seven points, five rebounds, and three assists in his 140th career game, breaking a tie with Kevin Anderson for the most appearances in program history.

With the win, Richmond moved to 8-1 in its last nine games vs UMass and a perfect 6-0 in its last six home games vs the Minutemen.

The Spiders are now 10-6 on the season, including 7-1 at the Robins Center. 2021-22 is the 15th straight season Richmond has reached double-digit wins, one shy of longest streak in school history (16 straight from 1978-79 to 1993-94).

Richmond is scheduled to travel to Fordham this weekend for a Saturday showdown with the Rams. Tip-off is slated for 2 PM on ESPN Plus.

augusta free press
augusta free press