The last time the University of Richmond men's basketball team hosted the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, on Jan. 20, 2010, the 49ers won 71-59. The Spiders won their Atlantic-10 conference opener with the same score on Wednesday night in front of 4,231 spectators.
Richmond snapped UNC-Charlotte's four-game winning streak, as Richmond rebounded from the buzzer-beater loss to Bucknell University on Jan. 2 to improve to 12-4, 1-0 in the A-10. UNC-Charlotte defeated its last four opponents, including then-No. 7 University of Tennessee, Wright State and Georgia Tech. Richmond beat Wright State as well, but lost to Georgia Tech.
The 49ers jumped out to a 6-0 lead before senior guard Kevin Anderson scored the first Richmond basket at the 17:16 mark.
UNC-Charlotte held the early lead until a big defensive block and rebound by senior forward Kevin Smith fed Anderson with another layup, tying the game at 12-12 with 13:42 left in the first half.
Anderson and senior forward Justin Harper scored Richmond's first 17 points, but then sophomore guard Darien Brothers made a 3-point shot to take control of scoring for the remainder of the first half. Richmond led 32-26 at the end of the first half.
UNC-Charlotte sophomore forward Chris Braswell kept the 49ers in the game during the first half with 12 points and six rebounds. The 49ers opened the second half with a 3-pointer by junior guard Javarris Barnett.
UNC-Charlotte continued to close the gap with back-to-back dunks by junior guard Derrio Green off of Richmond turnovers. Another 3-pointer by Barnett brought UNC-Charlotte within one point, 39-38, with 15:33 remaining in the second half.
After the media timeout, Smith made a layup after an assist from senior center Dan Geriot. That shot ignited Richmond's 14-4 run during a five-minute span in which Richmond had five of its 11 assists.
But even after Richmond's run, UNC-Charlotte would not quit. The 49ers started to creep back into the game with two foul shots by senior center Phil Jones and another steal and dunk by Green with 6:51 left in the game.
UNC-Charlotte trailed 60-55 with 4:40 remaining when Harper hit a 3-pointer to put the 49ers away.
The Spiders significantly improved their free-throw percentage compared to the Bucknell loss. Richmond shot 15-16 from the free-throw line against UNC-Charlotte, whereas against Bucknell, Richmond only shot 9-18 free throws.
Harper led all scorers with 27 points, including hitting four out of five 3-point shots and 100 percent from the foul line.
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Braswell finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds as UNC-Charlotte's leading scorer.
Harper said that the team was excited to start conference play 1-0 at home, especially since the Spiders dropped one of their conference games at home last year.
While UNC-Charlotte out-rebounded Richmond 38-24, junior forward Darrius Garrett is confident that the team will continue to improve its rebounding heading into Saturday's match-up against La Salle University.
"As a team, every person that played grabbed a rebound," he said. "We're trying our hardest, but we'll continue to work at it."
Richmond coach Chris Mooney said that the team played well despite struggling with changing defensive schemes and rhythms.
"A 1-0 start is very good for us and we have a goal to win the A-10 championship," Mooney said. "Last year, we were very close, but I think that we are a team that can compete throughout the season. I think that that's the best pursuit in college basketball, to win the regular season. Fourteen teams are trying for it with home games and away games, and you have two and a half months to prove it."
Richmond travels to La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pa., for the team's first conference road game Saturday Jan. 8 at 4 p.m.
Contact staff writer Amelia Vogler at email@example.com
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