It was a game the University of Richmond men's basketball team would have normally lost.
But the Spiders were able to overcome a large first-half deficit and pull out a close game, 71-67.
The Spiders were down by eight points just two minutes into the game and trailing 12-0 before they even scored. The lead for the Dukes grew to 15 with 3:51 left in the first half before Richmond went on a 7-0 run.
"The win is huge for us [coming off of a] four-game losing streak, especially the way we lost," sophomore Justin Harper said. "A lot of the games were close. A lot of the games actually started off like this one where we didn't get off to a good start offensively."
Freshman Francis-Cedric Martel tied the game at 40 with his shot at 14:53 in the second half. It took until 10:25 for Richmond to get its first lead on sophomore Justin Harper's three-point play.
Richmond coach Chris Mooney made an adjustment to his starting line-up. Harper, who has been struggling as of recent, was replaced by junior Ryan Butler, who hit three out of his four shots -- all three-pointers -- and added a pair of free throws for 11 points.
"At the end of the [Feb. 8] Saint Louis game, Justin turned his ankle," Mooney said. "We expected him not to play, even up until last night we didn't think he would play. He had a very good rehab session last evening and this morning. He gave it a shot during shoot-around and felt pretty good and played."
Two of Butler's shots came in a span of less than a minute with about eight minutes left in the game. The first one tied the game at 54, and the second gave the Spiders the lead for good.
"He was aggressive tonight," Mooney said. "He's a really good player. To have him here as a junior -- he has gone through some ups and downs like we all do. He seems to be much more consistent now."
Four other Richmond players scored in double figures. Harper finished the game with 13 off of the bench. Junior David Gonzalvez scored 16 points, including a layup at the final buzzer to cap off the game. Sophomore Kevin Anderson added 14 and senior Jarhon Giddings had 11 points.
Martel made a game-saving block on defense. After a turnover by Anderson, the Dukes had the ball with 42 seconds left in the gam, down by two. With 25 seconds left, freshman Melquan Bolding attempted a three from the left corner, but Martel blocked his shot.
"He is one of the few guys who can block his own man's jump shot," Mooney said. "He's done it probably six or seven times this year, and he does it in practice once or twice a day. He made a great play on the ball."
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The win improves Richmond to 12-12 overall and 4-5 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Richmond travels next to Dayton University for a game at 7 p.m. Feb. 14. Dayton is one of the top teams in the A-10, boasting a 21-3 record after a victory against No. 14 Xavier University on Wednesday night.
"We've got to take the emotion that we put into this game and just carry it down the road," Harper said. "I think we will be fine if we just come out there, play hard, and get off to a good start ... we should be able to take care of business."
At the 9:55 mark of the first half with his team trailing 20-12, Mooney picked up a technical foul for complaining to the refs.
"I think [the technical] probably was a little bit out of frustration about how we were playing," Mooney said. "That often is how it is."
With the win, the Spiders have now won the last 12 meetings against Duquesne. The last time they lost to the Dukes was Nov. 28, 1994.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at email@example.com
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