It was the Kevin Anderson show down the stretch once again as the University of Richmond men's basketball team defeated La Salle University 67-63 Saturday afternoon at the Robins Center.
Anderson, Richmond's star junior guard, scored the last 10 points for the Spiders to help put away an Explorers team that was threatening to steal the game.
Richmond led the entire second half, but had to withstand a couple of La Salle runs. The Spiders opened a 10-point lead during the second half, but the Explorers charged back to cut the lead to two with nine minutes left during the game. A quick 7-1 run by Richmond put the Spiders ahead 57-50 and it appeared that Richmond had control of the game.
That seven-point lead was cut to three as La Salle got back-to-back baskets by freshman Aaric Murray and junior Jarrell Williams. La Salle then switched to a man-to-man defense after playing mainly zone defense. But that is when Anderson made the plays necessary for Richmond to hold on to the lead.
Anderson started his offensive spurt by hitting a layup and the ensuing free throw after he was fouled. He kept up the effort on the defensive end by stealing the ball from Williams.
On that possession, senior David Gonzalvez set Anderson up for another layup to bring the Richmond lead back up to eight. Anderson got another steal on defensive end, but senior Ryan Butler was unable to hit his jump shot.
After a pair of La Salle free throws, Anderson hit a floater in the lane to give the Spiders a 66-58 lead with 1:35 left. The Explorers responded with a pair of free throws to give La Salle a chance.
Anderson put the game away on the next Richmond possession as he hit a layup while Murray fouled him. His free throw gave the Spiders a 67-58 lead with only 95 seconds left during the game.
"They were posting me up all game and of course that is a mismatch," Anderson, who is listed at 6-feet tall, said. "When they went man, they're 6-8, 6-9, 6-10. I was looking for my mismatch and found one at the end and I finished. It worked out for me and it worked out for the team."
Anderson finished the game with 21 points, the seventh time this year that he has scored more than 20 points during a game.
Gonzalvez scored all 12 of his points from beyond the 3-point arc during the first half and junior Justin Harper had 11 points on 5-9 shooting. Anderson credited Gonzalvez's ability to hit deep 3-point shots to open the floor offensively.
"I'm just waiting for two or three of them to go in because then teams have to stretch out their defense," Anderson said. "When I say stretch it out, that gives me a chance to drive in there, Butler a chance to drive in there, Justin a chance to drive in there like he did and he got a nice finish."
The Spiders got a big first-half contribution from freshman Darien Bothers. Brothers came off the bench to hit on all three of his jumpers to score a career-high six points.
"Darien's been playing great and I thought he was terrific today," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "When he came in, he was assertive. He was aggressive. He had energy. Boy, he was terrific. I hope that was a little bit of sign of things to come."
The Richmond defense held the Explorers without a 3-point field goal until the last second of the game when Murray hit one as time expired.
Richmond's ability to shut down the Explorers' 3-point scoring helped to negate the rebounding advantage La Salle held. La Salle grabbed 39 rebounds, including 15 on the offensive end, as the Spiders got only 28 rebounds. Murray, La Salle's 6-foot-10 center, was a force down low as he grabbed 15 rebounds.
Both teams shot the ball well as both teams hit more than 45 percent of their shots.
"It wasn't our best defensive effort today," Mooney said, "but I do think at key times we are able to get defensive stops. That's probably been our most common thread through our season."
The win improved Richmond to 14-5 overall and 3-1 in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
Richmond will host the University of North Carolina at Charlotte at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20. Richmond is 9-0 this season at the Robins Center.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at firstname.lastname@example.org