UVa. rallies for 66-64 win over Richmond
Story by Chris Graham
Listen to today’s “SportsDominion Show,” featuring commentary and analysis from SportsDominon editor Chris Graham on last night’s first-round College Basketball Invitational game between UVa. and Richmond and interviews with Virginia coach Dave Leitao and Richmond coach Chris Mooney. Show Length: 18:22.
Dave Leitao called one timeout, then another, trying to quell a Richmond run that was seemingly putting the first-round College Basketball Invitational game between UR and UVa. out of the Cavs’ reach.
But it didn’t seem to be working – the Spiders actually extended their lead through the spate of timeouts from eight to 12, at 61-49 with 8:41 to go.
And then something clicked, though when we asked Leitao afterward what it was that turned things around, he said he’d be talking Xs and Os with John Wooden if he knew the answer.
“All of the sudden, we jumped to the ball more, guys weren’t penetrating as much, we’re covering back to shooters quicker. We got to spots a whole lot better than we had for thirtysome-odd minutes,” said Leitao, whose ‘Hoos outscored Richmond 17-3 down the stretch to pull out a thrilling 66-64 win Tuesday night.
OK, I say thrilling, and then I’m reminded by looking at the box score that only 4,022 paid, or about 6,000 or so less than UVa. figured it would need to have on hand to break even considering the $60,000 that it had to fork over to be able to host the game.
But the John Paul Jones Arena was rocking, relatively, anyway, during the extended game-ending run that saw Virginia (16-15) hold Richmond (16-15) to one field goal in the last 8:41.
Richmond coach Chris Mooney was rocking, too, and reeling from the sting of a defeat that had snatched from the jaws of victory.
“I thought they were able to get to the foul line,” Mooney said of the difference in the last several minutes. “The game had seemingly been physical, and the last six minutes, it just seemed that they were able to get to the foul line. And the last minute, they had four fouls to give, and we were in the double-bonus. And that, you know, I think that really changed the game, their ability to get to the foul line.”
Of note here – Virginia 7-of-9 from the free-throw line in the last 8:41, including a 1-of-2 effort from Adrian Joseph when he was fouled with eight seconds left and UR needed to put him on the line to get the ball back, and another 1-of-2 effort from Sean Singletary that came on an obvious intentional foul by Richmond forward Dan Geriot.
Richmond was 1-for-2 from the line down the stretch.
Leitao, for his part, was almost as out of sorts as Mooney was after the game. He delayed getting back to the media room to talk to reporters for several minutes as he addressed his team.
“I’m feeling a little bit off-balance right now, because on the one hand, this is the time of year where you just win and move on. However you can scratch and claw and find a way to a victory, a half a point, a whole point better than the other team, you try to do that. On the other hand, what I had talked about, and what you all had asked me about, being ready to play, is what I saw for the better part of the game, where we were more listless than anything else,” Leitao said.
“It’s something that we’ve got to find our way through. Being in tournament play over twentysome years, I listen to the guys talk on TV and the radio right now, and I just laugh, because your last game has nothing to do with your next game. If a team is hot, it doesn’t take but another hot team to knock you out. So realizing that, it just becomes a situation of finding a way to win, and we’ll chalk it up to that and move on,” Leitao said.
Virginia will host Old Dominion (18-15), a 68-65 winner over Rider last night, on Monday in the CBI quarterfinals.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.