University of Richmond was unable to come away with a win against conference rival Virginia Commonwealth University despite a 30-point performance from senior guard ShawnDre' Jones.
The game was a back-and-forth affair that looked as if it could have gone either way until the Rams pulled away at the end of the second half. The Spiders ended up losing 81–74, and were ultimately hurt by turnovers and fouls leading to easy baskets for an athletic and big VCU team.
Richmond scoring leaders Jones and T.J. Cline both had solid performances overall. This was the second game in a row that Jones reached 30 points. Cline shot poorly, going 6–16 from the floor for 15 points, but also added seven rebounds and eight assists, which is impressive considering he was the focus of the VCU defense for the majority of the game.
The Spiders faced a formidable crowd in the in the Siegel Center, which sold out for the 94th time in a row Wednesday night. The stands were a sea of yellow and the energy seemed to affect some of the Richmond players at times. Redshirt sophomore Khwan Fore had a strong defensive game, but gave away a team-high seven turnovers.
Richmond was able to stay on pace with VCU on offense, shooting near 50 percent from the field, and played stout defense on the perimeter allowing only three 3-pointers. But the Spiders could not stop the Rams' big-man tandem of Justin Tillman and Mo Alie-Cox, who dominated around the rim.
Richmond coach Chris Mooney noted their presence in the paint as a key factor that swayed the outcome of the game.
“A very big key to their success is getting offensive rebounds, many of which lead to points,” Mooney said.
He also pointed to Justin Tillman, who had 18 points, as a hard player to guard.
“Even when you do have a body on him, he can jump over the guy," Mooney said. "He has great instincts and works very hard, and it is very important to try to limit his chances as much as you can even if you don’t eliminate them."
Despite being comparatively undersized, Richmond did win the rebounding battle 30–27, something the team has struggled to do all season. But as Mooney said, his team lost the offensive-rebounding battle, which is often the more important statistic.
The game was not only a rivalry, but one that had March Madness and conference championship implications as well. The loss brought Richmond to 7–3 in A-10 play and pushed VCU to 7–2, which ties the Rams with Dayton at the top of the A-10 standings.
Richmond plays George Washington in the Robins Center at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and will have a rematch against VCU on Feb. 17 at home.
Contact sports writer Mike Cronin at firstname.lastname@example.org