In a crucial game for conference tournament seeding, Richmond pulled out a strong 84–76 win over eighth-place Davidson Tuesday night.
The win was bookended by two Khwan Fore dunks. The first was a one-handed put-back on the first possession of the game. The second was a soaring two-handed finish via a backdoor cut on a beautiful after-timeout play by coach Chris Mooney to push the lead to nine points with 3:39 remaining.
ShawnDre’ Jones followed up Fore’s second dunk with a driving, and-one layup to effectively put the game out of reach.
With the win, Richmond solidifies its chances of a top four seed heading into the conference tournament, which would earn the team a first-round bye.
The Spiders stayed in control for most of the game. They dominated Davidson in the first half, leading the entire 20 minutes and pulling away to a 10-point lead on Julius Johnson’s third 3-pointer with three seconds remaining in the half.
Davidson had no answer for T.J. Cline early on. Cline shot 5-5 in the paint for all of his 10 first-half points. Cline’s low-post presence was a burden for Davidson all night. His threat to score allowed Richmond to open up the floor for shooters, and Cline found them. Cline garnered four assists in the first half including two of Julius Johnson’s 3-pointers.
The Spiders had led for the whole game until Peyton Aldridge’s fifth 3-pointer tied the score at 50 with 15:17 remaining. The Wildcats shot 14-32 from beyond the 3-point line, which kept them in the game all night.
Davidson led for most of the next eight minutes, but Richmond regained the lead at 68–67 on a Cline 3-pointer with 6:52 remaining. Cline’s basket sparked a 14–0 Richmond run to cement the win.
Cline and Jones shouldered the scoring load, with each contributing 18 points. Johnson’s 16 points ties a personal season high. Nick Sherod struggled to find his stroke from outside, but contributed with three timely cutting layups on assists by Cline.
After tonight’s game, Cline is averaging 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists. The only two players in NCAA history to match those numbers in all three categories are Evan Turner in 2009-10 and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway in 1992-93. Cline is well on his way to a historic year, and tonight’s victory is another step toward both his and the team’s goals.
The Spiders will be back in action on Saturday to take on 12-15 Fordham on the road at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN. The Spiders will return home just one more time in the regular season. Richmond’s senior night will be held on Saturday, March 4th at 4:00 p.m. against St. Louis.
Contact sports writer Mike O'Connor at email@example.com