The visiting Saint Louis Billikens scored the first 20 points of Saturday’s game, but it was the Richmond women's team who came out on top thanks to an inspired second-half performance.
The Billikens made eight of their first 10 shots, and Richmond did not score a single point until a 3-pointer at the 12:42 mark in the first half. The Spiders were evidently not discouraged, though. They chipped away at the Saint Louis lead until Janelle Hubbard hit a difficult layup with seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
“The positive was that we were down early as opposed to late, and it gave us time to come back,” Richmond head coach Michael Shafer said of his team’s slow start. “Honestly, we’re finding ways to win that you don’t plan for as a coach.”
Though the game may not have unfolded as Shafer planned, the Richmond crowd couldn’t get enough of it. After Olivia Healy’s go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime, the fans erupted thunderously for the shot that ultimately sealed Richmond’s 75-72 victory.
Lauren Tolson shouldered the Richmond scoring load, finishing with 22 points on four 3-pointers and a perfect 8-8 from the foul line. Janelle Hubbard added 15 points, none bigger than the two at the end of regulation, but was a threat from outside all game long. Gen Okoro had 15 points and six rebounds and Healy chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, as well.
With about eight seconds left in overtime and a 3-point lead, Gen Okoro missed two free throws that could have helped lock in a victory. The Billikens had no timeouts, so they couldn’t get set up and hoisted a desperation shot that missed. Tolson pointed to the experience of Richmond’s lineup as a key to the last few seconds of overtime.
“I think you have four out of five girls out there who are upperclassmen,” Tolson said after the game. “You just gotta go with your gut and make big-time plays.”
Saint Louis was led by Jamesia Price’s 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Perhaps even more significant was Jackie Kemph, who finished with 18 points on an efficient 8-9 from the field, adding four assists, as well. She was consistently able to break down the Richmond defense with her passing at the start of the game and was able to assert herself and score down the stretch when needed.
The Billikens held an advantage rebounding the ball by a margin of 46-30. They started off the game out-rebounding the Spiders 12-2 simply because the Spiders had few Saint Louis misses to rebound. The Billikens also outshot the Spiders from the field, managing almost 51 percent compared to just 40 percent for Richmond. The one major advantage the Spiders held was in the turnover battle, forcing 26 Saint Louis turnovers compared to only 16 of their own.
The Spiders (15-8 overall, 7-3 in the Atlantic 10 Conference) travel to Ohio on Wednesday to play Dayton (17-4, 8-1) in a decisive game for the top of the A-10 standings.
Contact reporter Walter Abrams at email@example.com
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