The Collegian
Sunday, July 05, 2020

Bilney leads Spiders to 74-57 victory over Colonials

Seven seconds in, the tone of Wednesday night's game was already set: Rachael Bilney was going to shoot three-pointers, and she was going to make three-pointers.

While it was raining outside the Robins Center, the University of Richmond starting guard poured in 32 points inside for the Spiders, 24 of which came from a school-record eight three-point field goals.

Bilney's career-best scoring mark was also the most scored by any Richmond player this season, and it helped lead her team over Atlantic 10 Conference-foe George Washington University, 74-57.

"I think Rachael really stepped up and basically said, 'We're not gonna lose this game,'" Richmond coach Michael Shafer said. "We've seen her do it before, and I've been telling her to shoot it more, but I guess it kinda took four years for her to really listen to me."

Her final three, which broke the record, came on Richmond's final possession, with just over four seconds remaining, but Bilney said she didn't know she was going for any record.

"I knew something was going on because they kept telling me one more," she said.

While the final score shows a large margin of victory, the Colonials stayed close for most of the game. The Spiders led 32-30 going into halftime, and each team exchanged four- or five-point leads until the game got under 10 minutes.

After GW guard Tara Booker made a layup to bring her team to within one point, 48-49, the Spiders scored 15 unanswered points over the next four minutes to put the game out of reach. Bilney accounted for eight of the 15.

"I think we kind of just got angry," Bilney said. "We weren't playing very well, and coach got on us a lot after a couple turnovers in a row, and I think we just kind of focused and everyone eventually made some plays that got us back on track."

The victory gives the Spiders their first A-10 win, as it comes after a loss to Temple University, 56-55, at home last Saturday on a last-second shot. Their overall record now stands at 13-3.

"The Temple game was a shocking loss, I can't sugarcoat it," Shafer said. "We all felt like we should've won that basketball game, and we were all kind of shaken by it."

One reason George Washington was able to stay competitive for so long was its pressure defense that led to 11 first-half turnovers by Richmond. The Spiders seemed to struggle in their second-straight game without a true point guard available. Starter Kerri Soppe was injured in a game against Lehigh University before New Year's and former starter Miah Register transferred earlier in the season.

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"I think it affected us, but at the same time, I think we were kinda playing passively," Shafer said. "I have a lot of confidence in Rachael and Abby [Oliver] and Kris[tina King] in attacking cause they're all really good ball handlers. I do wish we could have a true point guard out there, but at the same time, I feel like we were kinda just hesitant, just looking around instead of attacking like we have all year."

Next up for the Spiders is a game at University of Massachusetts on Saturday. Tip off is set for 1:30 p.m.

Game Notes: The teams combined to shoot 31-32 from the free throw line. Richmond, which made all 16 of its attempts came into the game second in the nation with an 82 percent mark... Richmond starting center Liz Brown played only seven minutes, picking up two quick fouls in each half... The Spiders have beaten the Colonials seven straight times.

Contact staff writer David Weissman at david.weissman@richmond.edu

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