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Richmond is Sweet 16-bound

Justin Harper poured in a game-high 19 points and 12th-seeded Richmond led wire-to-wire in punching its first Sweet 16 ticket since 1988, beating 13th-seeded Morehead State, 65-48, Saturday in an NCAA Third Round game in Denver, Colo.

Harper did his damage on nine-of-18 shooting from the field, and the senior grabbed six rebounds, dished out two assists and blocked a shot for Richmond, which improved to 29-7 overall with it its ninth-straight win.

Making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and its second-consecutive, Richmond improved to 8-8 in tournament play and makes the Sweet 16 for the second time (1988). The Spiders play the winner of the 1 Kansas versus 9 Illinois game next Friday in a Southwest Regional semifinal in San Antonio.

Senior Kevin Anderson added 14 points and fellow senior Dan Geriot gave the Spiders 29 key minutes with 13 points on six-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds. Junior Darrius Garrett matched Geriot’s seven boards and scored three points in 12 minutes.

The Spiders shot 47.3 percent from the field, but the story of the game – as it was during Richmond’s run to the Atlantic 10 tournament championship – was its defense. Richmond limited Morehead State to just 18-for-48 from the field (37.5 percent) and contained All-America Kenneth Faried to 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Richmond is 16-0 this season when holding teams below 60 points.

Harper opened the scoring for Richmond with a jumper at the 19:26 mark. The Eagles tied the game at 4-4, but the Spiders embarked on a 10-0 run over the next four minutes and left little doubt after that.

A Faried layup with 3:41 remaining in the half cut Richmond’s lead to 22-19, but the Spiders ended the half on an 8-2 run to take a 30-21 lead into the break. A three by Darien Brothers opened the second half and extended the spurt to 11-2.

Brothers knocked down both of his three-pointers – half of Richmond’s damage from downtown – as the Spiders were held to fewer than five made treys for just the second time all season.

But it was a three by Geriot with 4:31 remaining that served as the dagger, giving the Spiders their largest lead at the time of 56-43. Richmond was seven-for-eight from the free throw line (Anderson was four-for-four) in the final 1:22 to ice it.

The Spiders won as a higher seed for the first time in school history and won away from the Robins Center for the 17th time this season (17-4), including 7-1 on neutral courts.

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