As time wound down in the second battle for the City of Richmond Friday night, the Spiders’ fate grew similar to their first defeat to VCU earlier this season.
The Spiders lost 84–73. The win propels VCU to 22-5 and 12-2 in A-10 play, tying them for the lead in the conference. Richmond falls to 15-11, but is 9-5 in conference play and remains in third place in the A-10.
A one-point first-half deficit was accentuated by a 10–2 VCU run to open the second half and kept the Spiders at arm's length for the rest of the game.
The Spiders never got closer than within six points after the Rams’ second-half spurt. After losing both matchups in the 2014-2015 season, Richmond has now lost five consecutive games to VCU.
The Rams pushed and supported their lead by dominating the interior. JeQuan Lewis led the way for VCU with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists as he and Samir Doughty provided timely shooting to keep the Rams ahead.
Richmond pressured the Rams and threatened to create an offensive run at various points in the second half, but failed to find a momentum-shifting, crowd-igniting moment to turn the game around.
Richmond coach Chris Mooney said that he thought VCU's combination of ability to score timely 3-pointers and ability make baskets in the paint was too much for his team to overcome.
The Spiders’ offense stalled after a solid stretch in the middle of the first half. After leading 35–29 with 3:49 remaining in the first half, the Spiders scored just two points in the next seven minutes. VCU continued to thwart Richmond’s offensive flow throughout most of the second half, especially from close range. Thirty-two of Richmond’s 38 second-half points came via free throws or 3-pointers.
Richmond’s starters shouldered the scoring load behind 20 points from ShawnDre’ Jones. Richmond received just nine combined points from its bench compared to 33 for VCU. All five Richmond starters played at least 29 minutes.
In what might be his final game against VCU, T.J. Cline turned in a solid performance with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Cline was markedly excited before the game, noting on Instagram that “City of Richmond [is] on the line!”
Richmond will look to rebound against Davidson in a home game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Barring a game with VCU in the A-10 conference tournament, the Spiders will have to wait until next year to reclaim their grasp on city supremacy.
Contact sports writer Mike O'Connor at email@example.com