The Spiders hit more than half of their 25 3-pointers and played good enough defense to handily beat Northern Iowa on Saturday, wrapping up the team’s toughest four-game stretch of the season.
“I thought they were the best of the last four teams we played,” head coach Chris Mooney said of Northern Iowa. “Going into this four-game stretch, I really believe a good team could have gone 0-4.”
The Spiders proved themselves better than merely good, going 2-2 in those games, upsetting No. 14 California in Las Vegas and almost doing the same to No. 22 West Virginia before beating Northern Iowa 82-67 at home. Richmond held Northern Iowa, one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation, to just seven 3-point field goals, outshooting the Panthers from the game’s start.
Terry Allen led the way once again for the Spiders, this time with 21 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Allen broke his season-long shooting slump from beyond the arc, connecting on four of his five 3-point attempts.
Allen was only one of five Richmond scorers to crack double-digit points. T.J. Cline got going as the game went on, scoring 11 of his 17 in the second half, and dishing out seven assists. Shawndre’ Jones had 14 points and seven assists of his own. Deion Taylor and Marshall Wood scored 12 and 10 points respectively, each hitting two 3s.
The Spiders made 13 of their 25 3-pointers, good for a scorching 52 percent and almost as high as their shooting percentage from the field. The onslaught of 3s was well-distributed with five Richmond players making multiple shots from deep throughout the game.
Ball movement played a huge role in the Spiders’ good shooting numbers as 23 of Richmond’s 30 field goals were assisted by a teammate. At times it even seemed as if the Spiders were overpassing a bit, but regardless, they swung the ball around every possession, patiently looking for the best shot possible. Mooney acclaimed his big men for being able to find shooters out of double teams.
“They were committed to doubling Terry and T.J. and to be honest, I think that was the key to the game,” Mooney said. “We didn’t turn it over once and most times, we had a really good shot out of that double team.”
Richmond’s defense wasn’t flawless, especially late in the game as Northern Iowa had a few uncontested scores inside thanks to miscommunications. Paul Jesperson and Matt Bohannon each hit three 3-pointers, a few of them with no Richmond defender in sight. The Panthers overall shot 47 percent from the field and almost 39 percent from deep, both decent figures. But as Mooney pointed out, you don’t lose many games in which you hit 13 3-pointers.
Another bright spot for Richmond was rebounding. The team won that battle 31-28 in part because so many of the Spiders’ shots went in, but also because of boxing out and actively pursuing rebounds rather than ball-watching. Overall, it was an impressive performance for a Richmond team with chronic rebounding issues.
With the toughest part of their schedule behind them, the Spiders sit at 5-3 with some easy games coming up. There are still questions surrounding the defense and rebounding, but for now, Richmond’s shooting should be enough to carry it through the next month against a lineup of mostly weaker opponents.
The first of these comes next Saturday against Longwood, a game the Spiders should approach with the same focus and intensity as any other game, but no doubt a welcome sight after four brutal opponents in a row.
Contact sports assistant Walt Abrams at email@example.com