Even though the Richmond Spiders were able to score first, they lost the away game 81-60 against the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams after they failed to recover from a first half deficit.
Redshirt sophomore guard Grant Golden opened up the scoring for the Spiders, but the two points were answered by forward Marcus Santos-Silva less than a minute later. After first-year guard Jake Wojcik’s successful layup, the Spiders would have their largest lead of the game at 9-6.
What started off as back-and-forth scoring, quickly dissolved into an eight-point lead by VCU.
Sophomore guard Nathan Cayo and sophomore guard Jacob Gilyard both tried to answer VCU’s scoring, but the Rams' three-pointers were what put them ahead.
“The three-point shooting was really, really impressive,” Richmond head coach Chris Mooney said in a postgame interview.
VCU was able to shut down Golden for most of the first half, keeping him to only six points. VCU sealed their lead with a three-pointer from guard/forward Mike’L Simms and guard Marcus Evans to make the score 41-25 at the half.
At the start of the second half, VCU forward Sean Mobley scored a three-pointer within the first twenty seconds, prompting the Spiders to respond with nine points between four separate players.
The Spiders had to adjust to the defense that the Rams were playing, where they tried to prevent Golden and Gilyard from scoring. Evans commented on VCU’s defensive plan after the game.
“We played our defense,” Evans said. “We’re going to stick to our principles.”
It looked as if the Spiders could come back, but the Rams began to draw away. The Rams went up 51-38 after three free-throws from Simms.
“I think our guys started playing a little looser and not fighting the game,” head coach of VCU Mike Rhoades said.
Five minutes into the second half, Cayo put up two points that were quickly answered by a dunk from forward Issac Vann.
A three-pointer by guard De’Riante Jenkins and a dunk and free-throw by Santos-Silva put the Rams up 68-49.
The Spiders struggled to gain momentum as their points were quickly answered by the Rams offense.
Cayo started playing more aggressively as the half went on, scoring 20 points in the second half.
“I came out slow in the first half and that’s unacceptable,” Cayo said. He also described the VCU defense and how they cut off the passing lanes for the Spiders during the game.
VCU acquired their biggest lead of 24 points with just under three minutes to the end of the game after a three-pointer from Vann made the score 78-54 Rams.
First-year forward Souleymane Koureissi and Cayo each made their free-throws to make the final score 81-60.
Mooney accredited the Rams' success to their “exceptional defense,” which hindered the Spiders performance.
With this win, the Rams move into a share of first place in the conference with Davidson. The Spiders have a bye week and will return on Feb. 20 to play the Fordham Rams at home.
Contact senior sports writer Lindsay Emery at firstname.lastname@example.org.