The Atlantic 10 first-place showdown between the University of Richmond and Xavier University lived up to all of its hype and expectations on Sunday, as the Spiders narrowly lost to the Muskateers in double-overtime.
Junior forward Justin Harper missed a potential game-tying reverse layup as time expired and Richmond lost a nail-biter, 78-76, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Richmond junior Dan Geriot went to the line to shoot two free throws with 13.9 seconds to play during double overtime, but made only one of two, keeping the Xavier lead at 77-76. The Spiders fouled Xavier's Jason Love on the ensuing inbounds pass and Love proceeded to make one of two free throws to extend the lead to two.
Both teams entered the game as part of a three-way tie with No. 20 Temple University for a share of first place in the A-10 Conference. Xavier had two chances to win the game.
Love could not convert a three-point play to put Xavier up by four points with fewer than 49 seconds to play during the second half.
On the ensuing Richmond possession, senior David Gonzalvez hit a long 3-pointer to tie the game with 20 seconds to play. His defense then forced Xavier's Jordan Crawford to shoot a long three that missed and sent the game into overtime tied at 64.
During the first overtime, Richmond and Xavier again played neck and neck and Crawford missed another potential winning shot during the final possession.
The game featured 12 ties and 14 lead changes, with neither team up by more than six during the second half or either overtime.
Xavier pulled ahead early during the first half and went up 22-15 for the biggest lead of the game. But Richmond kept it close thanks to clutch shooting from three-point range. Eight of Richmond's first 11 baskets were 3-pointers, including five in a row at one point. The team shot 8 of 17 from behind the arc during the first half.
Xavier led 38-34 at halftime.
Neither team faded during the second half, making the game come down to a final shot.
The game featured a showdown of two of the best backcourts in the conference. Gonzalvez scored 18 points for the Spiders and junior Kevin Anderson added 17 of his own after being held scoreless during the first half. Xavier got strong play from its tandem of sophomore guards. Terrell Holloway scored 24 points and Crawford scored 19.
Richmond got strong play from four of its five starters.
Harper scored 15 points and senior Ryan Butler scored nine points, which included a three-point play during double-overtime to get Richmond within two points with fewer than two minutes left.
Darrius Garrett only played five minutes after getting into early foul trouble. Geriot played well off the bench and scored 10 points during 34 minutes of play.
While Richmond was 12-29 from three-point range, the team was only 4-6 from the free-throw line. The Spiders had no foul shot attempts during the first half and the team attempted its first free throw with 16:47 remaining during the second half.
During its first double-overtime game of the season, Richmond fell to 22-7 overall and 11-3 in conference play. The loss also snapped an eight-game win streak for the Spiders.
With the win, Xavier took another step toward its fourth-straight A-10 regular season title. The team also extended its conference home winning streak to 31 games. The Spiders are one of two teams to have won twice in the building and could have been the first team ever to win three games at the Cintas Center.
Richmond will return to action at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, against the University of Dayton at the Robins Center.
Staff writer Reilly Moore contributed reporting for this story.
Contact staff writer Nick Mider at firstname.lastname@example.org