Nearly 1,000 local elementary school children cheered on the University of Richmond women's basketball team in its Atlantic-10 conference game against the St. Louis Billikens on Wednesday.

The game was scheduled at noon as a part of the annual Dream Big Day, so that students could arrive early to learn about the importance of higher-level education and the possibility of playing collegiate athletics.

"It's fun to have fans," Richmond senior Ryann Dannelly said. "It created excitement."

Despite support from the crowd, the Spiders struggled early. They shot just 28 percent from the field in the first half, allowing the Bilikens to take a 22-18 lead into halftime.

The shooting woes continued in the second half, finishing at 34 percent on field goals, including a 3-18 mark from the three-point line.

"I was rushing my shot and not shooting with enough confidence," UR junior Kristina King said.

King was still able to tie the score at 23, though, early in the second half with a made free-throw just moments after senior Rachael Bilney hit a 3-pointer.

With 10 minutes to go, the Spiders had gathered enough momentum to take a nine-point lead.

However, St. Louis wouldn't go away easily. There were six lead changes in the final five minutes.

With less than three minutes remaining, UR sophomore Liz Brown fouled out of the game.

In the end, the Billikens tied the game at 49 before eventually winning, 52-49, during the final 29 seconds.

"We couldn't put 40 minutes together," Dannelly said. "We had really good moments and really good streaks of offense and defense, but at the end, it didn't work."

Contact reporter Mara LugoRudner at