The University of Richmond men's basketball season opener was a disappointing one, as UR was unable to find its true stride, falling to the underdogs from University of Delaware. The score was 76-63.
Delaware fired out of the gate, hitting two threes to cap off a 12-2 run before the first media timeout. The Spiders were 0 for 5 from the field during that span, with their first basket not scored until the 13:09 mark.
The Spiders answered with a 6-0 run of their own. All six points came from the free throw line.
Then the Blue Hens went on a 14-0 run, led by sophomore guard Ryan Daly, who paced all scorers with 22 points and junior forward Eric Carter, who finished with 12 points. Similar to the rest of the first half, they used slick ball movement and aggressive attacks to the hoop to score easy points.
Richmond called its first timeout at the 8:55 mark. Down 26-8, the Spiders switched over to a pressure defense, trying to create turnovers and slow down their offense.
At the 8:11 mark Richmond sophomore star De’Monte Buckingham, who finished with 18 points, was called for a questionable block that sent him to the bench with two fouls. Buckingham appeared to have his feet set outside of the restricted zone, and Richmond coach Chris Mooney visibly opposed the call.
Upon Buckingham’s exit, Delaware went on a 17-2 run where they hit seven consecutive shots, with just under four minutes left. The score was 45-10 in favor of the Blue Hens.
With 2:03 left in the half, the Spiders brought the fans at the Robins Center Arena to their feet. A steal in the defensive zone by freshman Jacob Gilyard proceeded by freshman Grant Golden’s slick ball handling gave Buckingham a sure layup. Golden then made a block on Delaware’s offensive push, and then tallied another two points for the Spiders. Delaware responded with a timeout.
The half ended at 49-20. The Blue Hens shot 75% from the field in the first half. The Spiders shot 20% from the field, and scored 11 of their 20 points from the free-throw line.
Sophomore guard Nick Sherod commented, “We still have to come out with energy we still have to run our offense. We didn’t do that in the first half and that’s why we are where we are now.”
From the start of second half it was clear Richmond’s plan was to increase the pace of the game. The Spiders started the half on a 6-0 run.
Following an exchange of baskets, Richmond went on another 6-0 run and was able to cut the deficit to 20 points and forced the Hens to use a timeout.
Gilyard's play was what kept the Spiders in the game. He finished with 17 points and 4 assists, and handled the total responsibility of the bringing the ball up. He also led the Spiders with 37 minutes. Coach Mooney remarked on Gilyard filling junior Khwan Fore’s role: “He’s a defensive catalyst, he’s trying to be an offensive catalyst, and that’s a lot on him right now, but if there’s a guy who can handle it and move forward from it, I believe it’s him, because as coaches I think we know he’s going to be a great player.”
Following another controversial blocking call, a scuffle broke out between Delaware's Daly and Richmond’s Golden. The referees had to intervene and sent both teams to their benches. A double technical foul was assessed to both players. Daly noted, after the game, that it was simply basketball.
Daly faced consistent boos from the crowd upon every touch following his technical foul, but handled the adversity with maturity. His lone three was very timely, as Richmond had just cut the lead down to 12 points.
The Spiders had one final push in them, closing the gap to nine, which was the lowest it got.
As the final minute waned, the warm air from the game shot through the exit doors, and the stadium came to a chill.
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