Despite leading for most of the second half, the University of Richmond men's basketball team lost 66-58 to La Salle on Saturday night at the Robins Center.
The Spiders’ record is now 8-14 overall and 2-7 in conference play.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the game. Richmond and La Salle each had three turnovers in the opening minutes, and the score was just 6-6 before sophomore Jacob Gilyard’s three-pointer broke the tie with 14:04 remaining in the first half.
The game remained tightly contested throughout the first half. Neither team led by more than five points during the first 20 minutes.
Gilyard led the Spiders in scoring at halftime with 17 points, shooting 7-11 from the field. He also had two rebounds and two steals.
Sophomore Nathan Cayo was outstanding defensively, contributing two blocks, two steals and four rebounds in the first half.
For the Explorers, junior Isiah Deas led the team in scoring with 10 points at the half.
Richmond led 35-30 at halftime.
Cayo scored on consecutive possessions to start the second half, extending Richmond’s lead to nine points.
After La Salle cut the Spiders’ lead to four points, Gilyard hit a three-pointer from the corner with 13:38 left to give Richmond a 46-39 lead.
The Spiders offense stalled, allowing the Explorers to continue closing the gap. A contested three-pointer made by La Salle’s Pookie Powell tied the game 48-48 with 9:44 remaining.
Several minutes later, first-year guard Jake Wojcik made a three-pointer to give the Spiders a 53-50 advantage. On the Explorers’ ensuing possession, Powell hit another three-pointer to tie the game again.
A successful free throw by Deas with six minutes left in the game gave La Salle its first lead of the second half. They would maintain the lead for the remainder of the game.
La Salle junior Saul Phiri made a crucial three-pointer with 1:40 remaining to extend the Explorers’ lead to six points.
Richmond redshirt sophomore Grant Golden had a chance to tie the game with just over 30 seconds remaining, but his three-point attempt bounced off the rim.
Gilyard was held to just three points in the second half, finishing with 20 points. It was the third consecutive game Gilyard has led the team in scoring.
“We tried to deny him the ball a little bit more in the backcourt,” Explorers head coach Ashley Howard said. “He’s a great young guard, one of the best young guards in our league, and I have a lot of respect for him.”
After Richmond’s loss to St. Bonaventure last week, Spiders head coach Chris Mooney talked about the team’s struggles at the free-throw line.
“Any close game, your free throws are going to help you or hurt you,” he said. “They certainly hurt us tonight.”
In that game, the Spiders made 13 of 21 free throw attempts.
Richmond was even worse from the free-throw line against La Salle, making nine of their 17 attempts overall, and just three of 10 in the second half.
“We let them get offensive rebounds in crucial moments,” Cayo said. “We also didn’t make our free throws down the stretch.”
Coach Mooney said he appreciated the support from fans despite the team’s ongoing struggles.
“Hopefully they’re recognizing that we’re working hard and trying to improve and trying to get better,” Mooney said.
The Spiders’ next game is 7 p.m. on Wednesday at home against George Mason.
Contact senior sports writer C.J. Slavin at email@example.com