The Richmond Spiders men's basketball team remains undefeated at home and improved its winning streak to four with a 78-71 win over the College of Charleston on Saturday.
Coming into the game, the Spiders' hot start has begun to gain some national attention with the team receiving three points in this past week’s AP Top 25 Poll. The team should continue to gain more attention, as they are now 9-1 for the first time since the 1985-1986 season.
Charleston junior guard Brevin Galloway opened the game with a layup off of a Richmond turnover. On the Spiders' next possession, the Cougars managed to force another turnover which resulted in Galloway scoring again, this time with a 3-pointer, to put the Cougars ahead 5-0 early.
Redshirt junior forward Grant Golden then put Richmond on the board with a layup. Charleston responded with a Galloway steal and made the layup, making the score 7-2.
After another Golden layup cut Charleston's lead to three, Galloway knocked down another 3-pointer to make it 10-4, with all ten of the Cougars' points coming from him. Galloway would finish with a game-high 22 points.
A significant part of the Cougars' big opening lead was Richmond’s mishandling of the ball, recording four turnovers less than four minutes into the game.
The Cougars would eventually score their first points not from Galloway with a layup from senior guard Grant Riller, making the game 12-4. After a timeout, redshirt junior guard Blake Francis managed to hit a mid-range jumper to spark a 9-2 Richmond run, making it 14-13 to bring the Spiders within one.
Shortly thereafter, a Golden layup just over nine minutes into the first-half gave Richmond its first lead of the night.
The Cougars immediately responded with five unanswered points to retake the lead. However, the Spiders didn’t let this last long, as sophomore guard Andre Gustavson's 3-pointer started a 5-0 run, making the game 22-21 for Richmond.
Charleston senior forward Sam Miller knocked down one of his two free throws after a timeout, tying the game at 22. Francis then drilled a 3-pointer to put the Spiders ahead 25-22 with a little over six minutes left to play in the first half.
After an official timeout, Galloway scored his first basket since opening the game with all ten of the Cougars' first points to cut the Spiders' lead to one. A Golden layup then began a 10-3 Richmond run to make it 35-27 with 1:56 left to play in the half.
After a Charleston timeout, each team scored four points, making it 39-31 going into halftime.
Charleston senior forward Jaylen McManus opened up the scoring for the second half with a putback layup. Galloway followed with another steal and layup to make the score 39-35 a little over a minute into the half. Junior forward Nathan Cayo stopped the Charleston run with an easy layup assisted by junior guard Jacob Gilyard to extend the lead to six.
The Cougars continued their solid start to the second half, scoring four unanswered points to make it a one-possession game. The Spiders responded with a 4-0 run of their own, resulting in a score of 45-39.
After several baskets, an official timeout stopped play with 14:39 left. The Spiders were still on top by a score of 47-43.
For the next two and a half minutes, the teams continued to trade baskets, as the score was 57-51 with 11:50 left to play.
Following a timeout, both teams struggled to score, with the Spiders scoring four points compared to the Cougars' three points in about three minutes of play. The score was 61-54 with eight minutes left to play in the second half.
Play continued to be back and forth after the eight-minute mark, with the Spiders leading 67-60 with six minutes remaining.
As the Cougars continued to fight back, the Spiders stayed right with them and still led 71-66 with 2:27 left to play.
After a Richmond timeout, a Golden 3-pointer extended the Spiders lead to eight points. With under a minute left to go, Riller was fouled driving to the lane and made one of his free throws, making the game 74-67.
The Cougars attempted to come back from their seven-point deficit through full-court pressure, but the Spiders were able to hold on to win 78-71.
Going into the game, Gilyard was second on the team in points per game this season at 17.2, but scored only seven points in the win against Charleston. He did, however, lead the team in assists with eight, and Head Coach Chris Mooney said he was not worried about his reduced scoring output.
“He‘s just terrific,” Mooney said about Gilyard. “You know his numbers have been insane and so, of course, it’s not gonna always be perfect, but I thought he played a really, really good game and a winning game for us.”
Throughout both halves, Charleston managed to stay close with the Spiders. The Cougars led by eight at one point, and never trailed by more than 10. A big part of this was due to the play of Charleston's guards, Riller, who finished with 21 points, and Galloway, who finished with 22 points.
Gustavson said the team had focused on preparation to deal with Riller prior to the game.
“We worked on our pick and roll defense all week, [we] knew his strengths so that was all we tried to take away from him,” Gustavson said. “I think we did a better job in the first half than the second half, he just, he got downhill too much, we should have done a better job at it.”
17 of Riller’s 21 points came in the second half.
The Spiders finish out non-conference play with three away games after going undefeated at home. The team's next game will be against Old Dominion University on Wednesday, which Gilyard is looking forward to.
“I’m excited,” Gilyard said. “I think ODU is going to be a good environment, I think it will definitely be a lot more loud, I think the crowd will be a lot more engaged than Hampton, so I think it’ll be a true test.”
The game tips off at 7 p.m.
Contact sports writer Krystian Hajduczka at email@example.com