Coming off a tough loss to St. Bonaventure University, the Spiders bounced back, winning an Atlantic 10 Conference game, 74-70, against La Salle University.
"It's a confidence booster," Richmond forward Genevieve Okoro said. "We know we have the ability to play with teams like St. Bonaventure, so to come here, regroup, pick ourselves back up and get a win like this, it is important to us."
The Spiders jumped out to an early lead and led, 35-26, at halftime. Richmond's half-court press and 2-3 zone forced La Salle, a poor shooting team statistically, to shoot from the outside.
"Their penetration was starting to hurt us early on so we went to the zone," Richmond coach Michael Shafer said. "We were pressing into the 2-3 zone so that was taking some time off the clock."
While the strategy succeeded in the first half, La Salle was able to adjust in the second half.
"Once they started to break the press quickly, they had more time to move the basketball and get the open shots," Shafer said.
The Explorers had an 8-0 run to open the second half, cutting Richmond's lead to one. Freshman guard Jada Payne and junior guard Alexis Scott led the run. They combined to score 41 points in the game. Shafer wasn't pleased; he called timeout and gave his team an earful.
"I told them to get defensive stops and start getting the ball inside," Shafer said.
Richmond continued to get the ball inside to Genevieve Okoro. She was able to score seemingly at will against the smaller Explorers, finishing with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Eleven of her points came from the free throw line as La Salle could only foul to try to stop her.
"I have the ability to elevate and shoot over people," Okoro said. "If there's an obvious height difference, we're going to use that to our advantage."
The turning point in the game came with 15 minutes left in the second half. La Salle went on a run to gain a two-point lead. The Spiders went to Okoro once again. She got deep position and was able to bury a short hook shot while getting fouled. She made the free throw to finish the three-point play.
Before that play, La Salle looked like it had taken all the momentum. After that play, the game remained a tight back-and-forth contest. The Spiders were able to pull away with solid play from junior guard Rachael Bilney and senior guard Abby Oliver who combined for 29 points in the game.
With the win, the Spiders improve to 15-4 (2-2). They face the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday.
Contact reporter Will Offit at firstname.lastname@example.org