The University of Richmond men’s basketball team beat Danny Manning and the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons 84-74 in a game Saturday night.
The game marked head coach Chris Mooney’s 240th career win, a Richmond franchise record.
Sophomore guard Jacob Gilyard made his return to the starting lineup after missing UR's closely contested loss at Georgetown University on Wednesday with a groin injury. Although the Spiders were coming off four consecutive losses, they showed promising signs against Georgetown with an improving offense and a young bench.
On Saturday, Richmond played well out of the gates and did not stop for the rest of the game. Excellent ball movement included a strong drive in the lane by Gilyard, leading to a kick-out to sophomore forward Nathan Cayo in the corner. Cayo then swung it to wide-open senior guard Julius Johnson for three. Good penetration throughout the game led to many good perimeter and midrange looks such as this play and created lanes to the hoop.
Aggressive defense in the first half led to some key Richmond buckets. The Spiders pressed Wake Forest in an inbound attempt after a timeout. Gilyard stole the ball and made the easy bucket.
Making a defensive stop on the next Wake Forest possession, Cayo was able to get the ball, driving low baseline and making a strong reverse through contact to put Richmond up 28-19 with about six minutes remaining in the half. The two teams began to trade buckets for the rest of the half, with a floater off the glass at the buzzer by Wake Forest junior guard Brandon Childress to cut Richmond’s lead to 38-37.
Wake Forest came out of the gates hot in the second half with strong offensive rebounding by sophomore center Olivier Sarr and a nice coast-to-coast bucket by Childress, forcing Mooney to call timeout about three minutes in with Wake Forest leading 43-40.
However, UR controlled the game the rest of the way with aggressive defense and by taking care of the ball.
The Spiders put up 21 assists while committing only three turnovers. In contrast, they were able to force 15 Wake Forest turnovers compared to only 11 assists. This led to 28 points off of turnovers for the Spiders. The Demon Deacons managed only two such points. UR gained some momentum with good defense leading to strong ball movement and transition offense, going on an 11-0 run with around 14 minutes left.
Strong performances by redshirt sophomore forward Grant Golden and Gilyard allowed the Spiders to control the game the rest of the way. Golden scored 24 points on 50 percent shooting and had a team-leading +17 point differential while on the floor. Gilyard in his return struggled from the field, performing 4-12 on field goal attempts, but managed to get to the line and shot 6-6 on free throws. He finished with 14 points and nine assists.
Strong drives in the lane led to a lot of his dimes where he was able to find shooters and crashers, such as first-year forward Matt Grace getting a dump-off pass for an easy layup in the second half. Cayo also put in a strong performance with 17 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and 5-7 from the line.
Despite scoring only five points, first-year guard Andre Gustavson ran the offense very well in 18 minutes off the bench and was third on the team with a +11 point differential while on the floor.
“Tonight I thought [Gustavson] played a really good game," Mooney said. "Mentally, it makes him more alert to everything that he’s doing. Instead of really just trying to get in now, he can cash in on when he’s in and how he can attack the game.”
The team next hosts Coppin State University at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Contact sports writer Noah Goldberg at email@example.com.