After a dominating performance Saturday against High Point, the Richmond Spiders will play the North Carolina State Wolfpack in Raleigh this week.
The Wolfpack will be the Spiders’ first national test this season. The team will undoubtedly be challenged by NC State, who is 4-0 and plays in the vaunted Atlantic Coastal Conference.
The Spiders’ chances could be better than most think, though. Richmond’s statistics compare closely with the Wolfpack’s, but the biggest discrepancy is in the only statistical category that truly matters – points per game. The Wolfpack have scored 79 points per game so far, while the Spiders have scored just 67.
Some Spider players, including Kendall Anthony and T.J. Cline, said this game would be an opportunity to gain national respect. Mooney echoed his players’ sentiment.
“I think Richmond basketball has been known nationally as a program who has done well in these types of games,” Mooney said. “This is another opportunity for us, and we’re excited to go down, and we know this is a good opponent, but we’re looking forward to the game.”
If Saturday’s performance against High Point is any indication, the Spiders could be in good shape. The team defeated the Panthers 80-56 and made an impressive 61 percent of its shots compared with High Point’s 45 percent.
A 5-0 run in the first two minutes of the game set a fast tempo that the Spiders maintained for the full 40 minutes. Head coach Chris Mooney attributed the team’s success to ball movement and making shots.
“We were aggressive, we were very, very good on defense, and I thought we gave ourselves very good opportunities and then capitalized on them by making shots,” Mooney said.
Anthony led the Spiders with 22 points. He shot 80 percent from the field and brought a surge of energy to the court.
“Against ODU, I didn’t have a good game, so I had a bad taste in my mouth, and I knew this game we would have to come out and get a good start,” Anthony said. “For me, I had to come out and set the tempo.”
Three other Spiders scored in double figures and the team tallied 18 assists. Alonzo Nelson-Ododa had 13 points, two steals and two blocks. Cline scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
ShawnDre’ Jones also got in on the action, scoring 10 points and passing for four assists.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Cline, a redshirt-sophomore transfer, has contributed on both offense and defense so far this season. “He is such a difficult matchup for the defense,” Mooney said. “He’s able to just impact the game in a lot of areas. I think he will be a good rebounder.”
The Spiders’ transition game was solid, as guards and forwards penetrated deep into the lanes and were able to kick the ball out to the guards behind the 3-point line, who were making those shots all game.
“I thought the guards started our offense well,” Mooney said. “There was much more of a rhythm right away in today’s game then there has been.”
At the end of the first half, the Spiders led the Panthers 45-21. The aggressive defense forced contested and rushed shots from the Panthers the entire game.
“First half we got off to a really good start,” Anthony said. “Me and my teammates really made shots, and that was a big thing.
“On the other end we played good defense. So I think the first half was a really big key for us to get off to a really good start, and we kept that lead throughout the game.”
The Spiders never faltered and continued to pressure High Point guards in the half court set throughout the second half, in spite of the Panther’s increased shooting percentage.
“We knew we had to come out here and play hard today and get this win in front of our home crowd,” Anthony said. “I think we did a really good job.”
Despite both teams scoring 35 points in the second half, the Spiders were able to demand the tempo of the game. Richmond won the rebounding battle 27-22.
“We always try to be aware that even if the margin is wide and we have other guys in the game, to keep playing hard,” Mooney said. “Hopefully, if you keep playing hard it could lead to good plays, which could lead to confidence. I thought that was really good, and even though it didn’t necessarily impact the game, it impacts our players and our locker room.”
The Spiders will play at NC State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Support independent student media
You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.Donate Now