After trailing for most of the first 28 minutes of the game, the Spiders looked to its two young point guards for a spark.
Sophomore Cedrick Lindsay and freshman Kendall Anthony responded, leading the University of Richmond on a 9-0 run that put the Spiders ahead of American University, 47-39.
On Veteran's Day, the American Eagles were unable to regain the lead the rest of the game, and Richmond escaped an opening-night scare, 66-56.
"It wasn't the smoothest game we've ever played," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "It was a little bit choppy, but I thought our defense was really, really good in the second half, especially down the stretch."
Richmond scored 41 points in the second half, compared to 25 in the first half when the Spiders went into the locker room trailing by four points.
"In the first half, we weren't in our offense," Lindsay said. "We were just kind of all over the place, kind of excited to be out there, and we just needed to calm down and start running our offense."
Lindsay was the Spiders' main scoring threat in threat in the first half, scoring 11 points on 5-5 shooting. He finished the game with 17 points and a team-high four assists.
Leading the way in the second half for Richmond was Anthony, playing in his first collegiate game, who scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the half.
"The one thing I like about him is he's just this little ball of energy," sophomore center Derrick Williams said of his new teammate. "...He's tough, gritty player that we need on that court to help us in the long run."
Mooney said he had not expected Anthony to have such an impact statistically in his first game, but knew he was a good player.
Eleven of Anthony's points came from the free throw line. Overall, Richmond shot 33 free throws compared to American's 11. The difference may have made up for the Eagles' advantage from the three-point line, as they made 10-24 while the Spiders were just 3-16.
"I think we're a better shooting team than we showed tonight," Mooney said. "We've been good at limiting team's three-pointers [in the past], but that is disappointing. We had opportunities to not allow them to shoot open threes, so that's something we're going to have to really work on."
American's top option was forward Troy Brewer, tallying a game-high 22 points that included six three-pointers.
Other than Anthony and Lindsay, two other Richmond players reached double figures in scoring. Williams had 12 points to go along with eight rebounds, and junior forward Francis Cedric-Martel scored 11.
Richmond's next game will be at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., at 8:15 p.m. Monday.
Game Notes: Richmond guard Darien Brothers, the only returning starter from last season's Sweet 16 team, scored two points on 1-4 shooting... Last year's Sweet 16 team and the 1988 Sweet 16 team were honored in a ceremony before the game... The Spiders first lead came with 12:03 remaining in the second half.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at email@example.com