Scoring seems to come easy for the Spider men's basketball team this season, but junior guard David Gonzalvez knows the team can't win without defense.
"We've got a lot of guys that can score this year, but defensively, that's going to be the key for us," Gonzalvez said after the Spiders' 78-67 win against Coppin State University (1-3) at the Robins Center Sunday night. "We wanted to be better on defense [tonight]. We've been really working on it."
Richmond's defense efforts proved stronger, but remain a work-in-progress, coach Chris Mooney said. Sloppy Richmond defensive play allowed Coppin State to score 13 unanswered points during the final 1:31 of the game.
"We're better offensively than we are defensively," Mooney said. "We just have to continue tightening up our defense and make sure we're getting help from everybody."
Ten players scored for Richmond (4-2) in front of the crowd of 3,064. Gonzalvez went 6-for-12 to lead the Spiders with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Kevin Anderson added 14, and Jarhon Giddings scored 12 while going 4-for-4 from the field with two 3-pointers.
Richmond scored 9-of-16 three-pointers during the first half, but went 2-for-12 during the second half.
"We were getting good looks from three, and we were fortunate enough to get some," Giddings said. "We just went with that and it got us in a rhythm."
Overall, the Spiders shot 56 percent from the field -- 69 percent in the first half -- while the Eagles shot 29 percent. Richmond ended the first half with 49 points to Coppin State's 32.
"We can't give up 49 points in the first half and expect to win a basketball game," Coppin State coach Ron Mitchell said. "We never use excuses for how we play, but the fact remains we played the game with no discipline."
For the Eagles, Tywain McKee led the team with 20 points off 7-for-21 shooting, adding eight rebounds and grabbing four steals.
A weary Coppin State team arrived to Richmond near midnight Sunday after flying to Baltimore on Saturday from a game in Lawrence, Kan. The team endured problems with its bus transportation to the Robins Center and did not practice Saturday night.
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Richmond, meanwhile, was coming off an 80-66 away loss to Bradley University, a game during which several players found themselves in foul trouble. That continued Sunday night.
"We're still getting into too much foul trouble," Gonzalvez said. "We wanted to be ... focusing on what guys can do and try to eliminate their strengths. If a guy goes right, we try not to let the guy go right."
In a twist to their defense, the Spiders played an aggressive three-quarter court press early at Mooney's suggestion, a game plan he decided just before the game because he said it would energize the team.
"We hadn't been pressing like that in practice this week," Gonzalvez said. "And coach came in fired up, and he said we were going to press. It was weird, but it was fun."
Gonzalvez and Giddings said the team needed to continue amplifying its aggressiveness to draw fouls. But Richmond shot only 43 percent from the foul line compared to Coppin State's 74 percent.
"I think the aggressiveness is better, but we can still get to the line more," Giddings said. "We're a good free-throw shooting team, it's just that sometimes we lack concentration."
The Spiders next play Old Dominion University Dec. 3 in Norfolk, Va.
Contact staff writer Dan Petty at email@example.com
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