The Collegian
Friday, February 23, 2024

Richmond loses to Old Dominion 63-57 in close game

The Spiders lost their first game this season on Tuesday against Old Dominion University.

Richmond outplayed Old Dominion in the second half, but its inability to score early in the game made it too difficult to erase the Monarch lead.

This also was a problem in the Spiders’ first game of the season, a game in which they rallied in the second half to beat Radford. Against a stronger Old Dominion though, playing catch-up proved to be unsuccessful despite a solid second-half performance.

“Our offense was better in the second half, similar to the opener,” head coach Chris Mooney told SpiderTV after the 63-57 loss. “I think in the first half we were just pressing a little bit and forcing the issue.”

Forward T.J. Cline led the Spiders in scoring with a career-high 15 points on seven-of-eight shooting. In just 18 minutes of play, he had two steals as well. Forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and his two blocks rounded out his stat line.

After the game, Mooney had nothing but praise for Cline, the 6-foot-9-inch, redshirt sophomore who transferred in from Niagara after his freshman year. His coach singled out his effective abilities as both a passer and a scorer, a rare combination for a player of Cline’s size.

“I think T.J. has a really bright future, and I’m glad to see that he and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa are playing well together,” Mooney said to SpiderTV. He emphasized Cline’s ability to play well alongside other big men.

A huge problem for the Spiders was that they let the rebounding battle get out of hand, especially on the offensive glass. Old Dominion grabbed 35 total rebounds, 12 of which came on the offensive end. Richmond grabbed just 26 total rebounds and six offensive rebounds.

The Monarchs had a well-balanced offensive attack with four players scoring in double figures. Trey Freeman led the way with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Jordan Baker and Richard Ross each scored 12 points. Old Dominion is 2-0 this season after the win.

For Cline, the game had an added significance because Old Dominion is his mother’s (Nancy Lieberman, former WNBA player and basketball hall of famer) alma mater. While this was a talking point for many people, Cline said it wasn’t as important as others had made it out to be.

“In my eyes, it was just another game,” Cline told SpiderTV. “Playing here at my mom’s alma mater was actually more of a big deal outside of the family than inside the family.”

The loss drops Richmond to 1-1, and it’s evident that the Spiders are going to have to score more early in games in order to beat the stronger opponents on their schedule. The Spiders’ next game is at home against High Point at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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