VCU tops Richmond, 68-56, in Capital City Classic
VCU held Richmond to a season-low 56 points, while sophomore guard Bones Hyland recorded his second career double-double, to lead the Rams to a 68-56 in the 86th Richmond Area Honda Dealers Capital City Classic Wednesday night at the Siegel Center.
VCU (!6-4, 9-2 A-10) was able to pull away in the final seven minutes as the Spiders (11-5, 4-3 A-10) missed 14 of their final 15 shots from the floor down the stretch.
“I felt we were able to get some good shots but we didn’t make them and a lot of credits goes to their defense,” said Spiders coach Chris Mooney. “We had some opportunities right at the rim in the first half … and couldn’t convert those. I think it’s a combination of factors: they’re a great defensive team with a terrific coach and defensive principles but we really needed to convert those opportunities because it just has a way of making you less fatigued if you’re putting some points on the board and not having droughts.”
Richmond finished the game with its lowest point total and field goal percentage (32.8) since a 52-50 win over Fordham at the 2019 Atlantic 10 Championship.
Nathan Cayo led the Spiders with 18 points, his most since scoring 18 in Richmond’s win at #10 Kentucky on November 29.
Both offenses started the game slowly, and the score was tied at 13 midway through the first half. With starting guard Blake Francis picking up a pair of early fouls, freshman Isaiah Wilson entered the game and quickly hit a jump shot and a three-pointer to give Richmond an 18-13 lead.
The Rams responded with a 13-2 spurt to take control and built a 32-24 lead by halftime.
Jacob Gilyard led Richmond with seven points in the opening 20 minutes.
Francis, who has held scoreless in the first half, opened the scoring in the second half with a difficult layup in traffic and Tyler Burton, who also failed to score in the first half, added a pull-up jumper moments later.
With all five starters in the scoring column, the Spiders pulled themselves back into the game, using four points from Grant Golden, a three-pointer from Francis, and a pair of Cayo free throws to put together an 11-2 run and take a 37-36 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Francis continued to pace the Spiders offense, adding a breakaway layup and three-point play to push Richmond’s lead to 44-41. VCU steadied itself with six straight points to retake the lead before Cayo’s three-point play drew the Spiders within one at 51-50 with seven minutes to play.
From there, Richmond would hit just one of its next 15 shots, a Cayo layup with 3:08 to play. Included in that stretch were seven three-points attempts by the Spiders, part of Richmond’s 1-11 performance from three-point range after halftime.
Francis finished with 12 points, all after halftime, while Gilyard scored nine with five assists and five rebounds. The Spiders turned the ball over six times, tied for their fewest in a game this season, against a Rams team that entered the night forcing 18 turnovers per game, best in the Atlantic 10.
Up next for the Spiders is a home game against Duquesne on Saturday. Tip-off is 4:30 PM and the game will be nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network.
“We need to continue to play,” said Mooney on what his team needs. “We need a balance of playing and some rest now. I don’t think we’ve been over-doing it with our guys, but after having a break, we’re trying to balance the idea of trying to get them to play and run and move and trying to get them some rest.”