The Collegian
Monday, September 25, 2023

Men's basketball beats Vanderbilt 93-92 in last-second drama

<p>Guard Blake Francis, a redshirt junior, stays focused against the Vanderbilt Commodores' defense during the game on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.&nbsp;</p>

Guard Blake Francis, a redshirt junior, stays focused against the Vanderbilt Commodores' defense during the game on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. 

A last-second foul in overtime by Vanderbilt allowed for Richmond to edge the Commodores 93-92 in the teams' first meeting since 2011.

The Spiders improve to a 2-0 record, while the Commodores move to 2-1. This win makes the Spiders 2-0 for the first time since 2013.

The last time these two teams met was in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, where the twelfth-seeded Richmond Spiders upset the fifth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores.

Spiders head coach Chris Mooney was also the head coach during the 2011 matchup. The Commodores are now led by first-year head coach and former NBA all-star Jerry Stackhouse. 

Both teams opened up the game struggling offensively, as the first basket didn't come until over two minutes into the game with a layup by Vanderbilt forward Clevon Brown.

As Richmond continued to struggle on offense, Vanderbilt found its rhythm, opening the game on a 7-0 run.

The first Spiders' basket came over five minutes in the game with a short-range jumper from junior guard Nathan Cayo. 

Immediately after Cayo’s basket, junior guard Jacob Gilyard stole a Vanderbilt pass and was fouled as he drove to the basket. He hit both shots to make the score 7-4.

After ten minutes of play, Vanderbilt led 16-10.

The Spiders then went on a 7-0 run, taking the lead with a Cayo layup to make the score 17-16.

With Richmond leading 19-18, Vanderbilt forward Aaron Nesmith put the Commodores back on top with a four-point play, giving the Commodores a three-point lead.

Richmond redshirt junior guard Blake Francis responded with a three-pointer to tie the game at 22-22. 

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The Spiders followed with a 12-2 run to take a 34-24 lead. Vanderbilt regained some momentum in the final minutes of the first half, cutting Richmond's lead to seven points going into the break.

A big part of Richmond’s success in the last ten minutes of the first half was due in part to Vanderbilt’s 11 fouls. The Spiders took advantage of this, going 8-8 from the free-throw line.

Vanderbilt opened up the second half hot to regain the lead. Nesmith hit three consecutive three-pointers to give the Commodores a one-point advantage. 

Later, Gilyard made a three to tie the game 49-49. The Commodores answered right back with Nesmith hitting a fadeaway jump shot while being fouled. He missed the free throw, keeping Vanderbilt's lead 51-49.

After a steal, Gilyard hit a three-pointer on the counter-attack to put the Spiders back in the lead 55-53. 

A layup by Vanderbilt's Saben Lee tied the game back up with around 12 minutes left in the second half. Nesmith followed with another three-pointer to put the Commodores up 58-55.

With ten minutes remaining, the score was tied at 59-59. Shortly after, forward Dylan Disu hit a three-pointer to put Vanderbilt ahead. Disu’s basket was the start of a 7-0 Vanderbilt run. 

Richmond then started a run of its own when a Gilyard steal led to a Cayo layup. Gilyard later hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 66. 

Francis hit a mid-range jumper on the next Spiders' possession to put them ahead by two points. The 12-0 run ended with Gilyard hitting another three-pointer which caused the crowd in Robins Center to erupt in cheers.

Vanderbilt came back to tie the game at 80 with a little over a minute to play. Neither team would score in the remaining time, sending the game into overtime.

This was the second consecutive overtime game for Richmond, as its first game against St. Francis ended in a 100-98 overtime victory for the Spiders. 

Vanderbilt scored the first points of the overtime period with two free throws made by Disu making it 82-80. Scotty Pippen Jr. then scored a basket for the Commodores to put Vanderbilt up by four points. 

A three-pointer by Francis put the Spiders on the board in the overtime period, cutting the lead to one. 

Vanderbilt came right back with a Lee layup to go up by three points with less than three minutes left to play. 

Gilyard then hit two free throws to make it a one-point game again. On Vanderbilt’s next possession, Nesmith was sent to the free-throw line and he converted one of his two free throws with 1:30 to play. 

Richmond redshirt junior guard Nick Sherod converted a three-pointer to put the Spiders in the lead 88-87 for the first time in the overtime period with 1:14 left to play. 

With less than a minute left, Lee hit both of his foul shots to put the Commodores back up by one. Sherod responded with two successful foul shots to give the Spiders a one-point advantage, 90-89. 

Nesmith then hit a three-pointer with 36.1 seconds left to play to put Vanderbilt up 92-90. The Spiders immediately responded with a Gilyard layup to tie the game with 24 seconds on the clock. 

With 19 seconds remaining, Gilyard stole the ball from the Commodores and passed it to sophomore guard Andre Gustavson who had an open lane to the basket. 

Gustavson missed a dunk attempt as time expired, and it appeared the game would go into a second overtime. 

After an official review, however, Gustavson was fouled on the dunk attempt. He was given two foul shots with 00.6 seconds left on the clock. 

Gustavson would hit one of his two free throws, putting the Spiders up by one point and ending the game with a final score of 93-92.

The Spiders have now started the season with two overtime wins. 

“It’s real valuable,” said Francis, finishing with 24 points. “It just shows how resilient we are, we’re building chemistry everyday, the toughness is something that we are really building on so that was good to get two great wins early in the season.”

Although Vanderbilt shot 50% from the field compared to Richmond’s 45.7%, the Spiders still managed to come out on top by taking advantage of Vanderbilt’s turnovers. 

The Commodores turned the ball over 19 times compared to the Spiders' 11. This resulted in Richmond having 34 points off turnovers, while Vanderbilt only managed to produce 10. 

“We have to be a little more strict with the ball. We can’t expect to have 19 turnovers," said Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse. "With that many points off turnovers, it’s tough to win a game, and still be in a game.”

Nesmith led the Commodores in points with 34, while Gilyard led the Spiders with 26. Gilyard also finished the game with seven steals. 

In his previous game, Gilyard tied for the third-most five or more steal games in Division-I over the last three seasons with ten. This game marks his 11th, putting him solely in third.

“It feels like magic, some of them,” said Mooney, regarding Gilyard's seven-steal night. “You don’t anticipate it, you don't see it, then suddenly he has the ball in transition.”

Nathan Cayo added 20 points for the Spiders, while Lee had an impressive 24 off the bench for the Commodores. 

The Spiders’ next game is 4 p.m. on Sunday at home against Cal State Northridge.

Contact sports writer Krystian Hajduczka at

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