Richmond men’s basketball lost both of its games over Thanksgiving break, first in a shootout to North Carolina State (6-0) on Wednesday and then to Northern Iowa (7-0) on Sunday in a defensive battle.
Against NC State, both teams got off to fast offensive starts and the Spiders managed to stay competitive, trailing by only one point at the end of a first half that featured 19 lead changes.
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried was impressed with the Spiders’ first-half performance. “They came in the first half and just played, you know, sensational basketball,” Gottfried said. “They shot the ball really well.”
The offense went cold for the Spiders though, as they shot just 30 percent in the second half compared with 72 percent in the first.
NC State, however, continued to make shots and pulled away late in the game. Richmond’s inability to string together defensive stops against a strong Wolfpack offense was too much to overcome in the 84-72 loss.
“We made some long shots early on and were also able to get points in transition,” head coach Chris Mooney told SpiderTV after the game. “But unfortunately we weren’t able to get enough stops. Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner both had good games for them.”
Lacey and Turner shredded the Spider defense, pouring in 26 and 23 points respectively. Each had six rebounds and a pair of steals, and Lacey had five assists as well.
Richmond’s problems weren’t just limited to poor defense on Lacey and Turner. The Spiders were badly out-rebounded once again, this time by a margin of 38-24, giving up 15 offensive rebounds in the contest. Rebounds have been a problem for Richmond this season, as the team averages six fewer rebounds than its opponents.
Additionally, the Wolfpack attempted 22 free throws compared to just six for Richmond – a sign that the Spiders were less aggressive offensively. The Spiders shot five for 16 from three-point territory in the second half, continuing to settle for deep jumpers even after they stopped falling.
Kendall Anthony and T.J. Cline each scored 17 points for Richmond with efficient shooting. That marked a career-high for Cline, who had seven rebounds and a career-best four 3-pointers as well.
The Spiders’ next game against Northern Iowa played out differently but yielded the same result. Northern Iowa’s head coach Ben Jacobson had respect for the Spiders after their performance against NC State. “We certainly had some concerns coming in,” Jacobson told UNIPanthers.com. “On Wednesday against North Carolina State, Richmond put on an offensive display.”
Offense was not the story of the game between the Spiders and Panthers, though. Neither team eclipsed 40 percent shooting from the field and, rather than another strong start, Richmond couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the net in the first half, but settled in as the game progressed. A better second half was not enough for the team though – Northern Iowa won 55-50.
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“I thought we played a very good second half to give ourselves a chance,” Mooney told SpiderTV. “In the first half, it was just all Northern Iowa and we weren’t able to recover from that.”
Anthony led the Spiders in scoring with 12 points and Trey Davis had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Aside from Anthony and Davis, the Spiders shot a dismal 10 for 33 from the field and struggled for all of their shots.
For the second game in a row, the Spiders couldn’t get to the free throw line with any consistency, attempting only nine foul shots compared to the Panthers’ 23.
The pair of losses drops the Spiders to 2-3 as they look ahead to their next matchup – a home game against William & Mary at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Contact reporter Walter Abrams at firstname.lastname@example.org
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