The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Spiders suffer first home loss of season to Charlotte

University of Richmond senior David Gonzalvez hit a 3-pointer to give Richmond a 45-41 lead and bring the crowd of 4,042 at the Robins Center to their feet. But that basket, which came with 12 minutes and 47 seconds left during Richmond's game against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, would be the last of the good feelings for the home team.

The Spiders struggled offensively during the next 10 minutes as the 49ers went on a 19-5 spurt to hand Richmond its first home loss of the season by a score of 71-59.

During that 10-minute stretch, Richmond went 1-8 from the floor, including 1-4 from 3-point territory.

The Spiders were unable to stop Charlotte's 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward Shamari Spears. The Boston College transfer scored 20 points and had five rebounds, four of which were offensive. Richmond coach Chris Mooney often assigned the task of guarding Spears to sophomore Darrius Garrett and junior Justin Harper, but nothing would slow Spears.

"Darrius did block his shot once or twice but I give [Spears] credit," Mooney said. "He was physical and he's persistent. He posts up as hard as he can the entire game."

The size of Charlotte presented problems for Richmond's defense all night long. The 49ers scored 28 of their points from inside the lane and held a 40-29 rebounding edge.

Richmond was able to withstand a drought to close out the first half. The Spiders led 27-20 after a 3-pointer from senior Ryan Butler -- who finished 1-7 from 3-point distance -- with 6:32 left during the half. The Spiders failed to score for the rest of the half and trailed 32-27 going into the break.

"You always want to end playing good defense going into the second half," junior Justin Harper said. "They were able to get some easy put-backs. All of their big guys were in there crashing. We just weren't coming out of there with the ball when we needed to."

A 6-0 run to start the second half put the Spiders back up by one. But in a second half filled with runs, the 49ers took a five-point lead. The Spiders responded with their own run, highlighted by Gonzalvez's 3-pointer that gave Richmond its 45-41 lead.

Harper led the Spiders offensive effort with a season-high 24 points. The 6-foot-10 forward from Richmond, Va. hit four 3-points and showed why he is often considered to be one of the best NBA Draft prospects in the Atlantic 10.

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This was only the fourth time this season that the Richmond defense has given up 70 or more points. All four of those, including an overtime game at Wake Forest University on Dec. 31, have resulted in losses for the Spiders.

A victory tonight would have made history for the Spiders. The 9-0 home record tied the 1921-22 and 1937-38 teams as the best home start in school history. The start was good enough to mark the best start for the Spiders in the 38-year-old Robins Center.

The 49ers won their first A-10 road game in two years. The last time Charlotte won on the road during conference play was on March 8, 2008 at Rhode Island.

The Spiders, now 14-6 and 3-2 in the Atlantic-10 Conference, will travel to George Washington University to play the Colonials at 2 p.m. on Jan. 23.

Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at andrew.prezioso@richmond.edu

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