“Players,” head coach Michael Shafer said after pausing to gather his thoughts. “Players win basketball games.”
This was Shafer’s initial response when asked about his 167 wins, the most by a women’s basketball coach in University of Richmond’s history. After crediting his players, coaching staff and family for their hard work and support, Shafer – now 167-134 in his career – indicated that his time at Richmond as a whole is just as important to him as the wins.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to be in a place for 10 years and have the support we’ve had,” Shafer said. “That, to me, is the biggest accomplishment.”
His record-breaking came after a win against University of Massachusetts in the Robins Center on Saturday. By halftime, Richmond led by 15, and the team cruised to a 64-44 win fueled primarily by its defense.
Gen Okoro led all scorers with 12 points thanks to a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line in addition to a team-high seven rebounds. Liz Brown had 10 points and six rebounds and Liv Healy added nine points for a Spiders team that had 10 different scorers and 13 different players touch the court. After the game, Okoro attributed her team’s toughness and strength to Shafer.
“He’s been the strength behind everything, trying to make sure we stayed together and stay focused regardless of what’s happening,” Okoro said. “It’s been hard, but I could not be happier for him.”
Shafer’s team was certainly strong on the defensive end, and allowed just 44 points, the lowest total of the season. The performance marked the fourth straight game in which Richmond has held its opponent to fewer than 50 points.
The defensive success was in large part due to the Spiders’ press, which featured Lauren Tolson and Kylie Murphree hounding opposing ball handlers throughout the game. Richmond forced 22 turnovers and six different Spiders recorded at least two steals.
Despite a great defensive effort, the Spiders were once again out-rebounded, though only by four rebounds. They were also beaten 12-5 on offensive rebounds, though Massachusetts largely failed to capitalize with second chance points, only scoring seven.
The win makes three in a row for the Spiders (12-7) and moves them to 4-2 in the conference while dropping UMass (8-11) to just 2-5 in A-10 play. After Saturday’s win, Richmond is in fourth place in the conference standings behind Dayton, Fordham and an undefeated George Washington.
As the Spiders climb the A-10 standings, Shafer said he saw his team as a legitimate contender for the conference championship.
“I see them as a problem in the conference,” Shafer said. “Our schedule is very tough, but our goal is to be in the conference championship, and I think we have a basketball team that can do that.”
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
The next test for Richmond comes on Wednesday as the team hosts Dayton in the first of two games this season.
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