Richmond freshman De'Monte Buckingham flashed the skill and athletic ability that made him a highly touted recruit when he chased down St. Bonaventure’s Idris Taqqee and swatted the ball away from him as he attempted a fast-break dunk.
Timely plays and hustle helped the Spiders pull away from St. Bonaventure toward the end of an otherwise close game. At one point in the first half, Richmond trailed the Bonnies 28–16 with TJ Cline in foul trouble, but Buckingham and others helped to keep the game close.
Buckingham finished the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds and three steals, but even with his impressive production, his come-from-behind block was his biggest contribution. With Richmond up three points, he stopped St. Bonaventure from coming within one point and then got the ball to ShawnDre' Jones, who hit Cline for a corner 3-pointer, creating a five-point swing.
"The block was just tremendous, especially leading to the 3-pointer and really that was a microcosm of what Buck does for us,” coach Chris Mooney said.
Even though Buckingham is capable of making highlight-reel plays, his motivation is the same as everyone else on the team: respect for Mooney. It was his own turnover which led to the fast-break attempt in the first place.
“As soon as I turned it over I thought Mooney was going to be mad, so I got back up there and I blocked it,” Buckingham said.
Another player who provided a spark for Richmond was graduate transfer Kwesi Abakah, who got more playing time than usual with Cline on the bench with multiple fouls. His contributions were mostly on the defensive end, where he was able to take advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame to keep the Bonnie guards out of the paint.
Abakah came into the game with the Spiders missing scoring chances and helped turn things around. “We started getting more aggressive and getting more rebounds, which just helped a lot with the motion of the game,” Abakah said.
St. Bonaventure was without its best player, guard Jaylen Adams, who leads the Atlantic 10 in points and assists.
Next week the Spiders take on the similarly shorthanded St. Joseph's, where they will look to improve on their 4–0 conference record.
Contact sports writer Mike Cronin at email@example.com