In their first three games without leading scorer Blake Francis, the Richmond Spiders' offense seemed to not skip a beat. Up against the No. 7 Dayton Flyers, however, it was clear that the Spiders were shorthanded offensively, as they fell 87-79.
Going against their highest-ranked opponent in the Robins Center since February 18, 2006, when they lost 64-51 to No. 7 George Washington, the Richmond offense was shut down by the Flyers who outrebounded the Spiders 41-31.
Although the Spiders still managed to put up 79 points against the Flyers, the team struggled from the field, shooting 39.1%. The team also did not receive the same amount of points from the bench that they had in their three previous games, finishing with only seven compared to Dayton’s 21.
“I think we probably just missed shots,” said redshirt junior guard Nick Sherod about the team’s poor shooting percentage. “I think we felt like we could score. I think we were probably really amped up when we got the lead and we tried to hit the home run shot[s]. When you play a team like this you can’t really do that -- you got to stay with what you’re doing.”
In the first half, the Spiders were right there with the Flyers, taking the lead multiple times, with the first one coming off of a Sherod three-pointer at the 8:30 mark, making the game 22-20. Sherod would convert four of his seven attempted three-point shots and finish with 21 points and nine rebounds.
The Spiders' lead did not last long, however, as the Dayton Flyers offense, lead by potential NBA lottery draft pick Obi Toppin, came right back to get in front, upping the score to 24-22. Toppin and Jalen Crutcher each finished with 24 points. Toppin also recorded 12 rebounds while Crutcher added eight rebounds and seven assists. There were multiple lead changes for the next several minutes, and Dayton led 40-32 at halftime.
“We knew they were a really good team coming into here,” Obi Toppin said after the win. “We knew we were gonna have to lock into our scouting report and it was gonna be a defensive game more than an offensive.”
Despite only being down eight points at halftime, Richmond shot 37.5% compared to Dayton’s 53.6%. This trend of the Spiders not being able to get the ball in the hoop would continue into the second half as the Flyers began to open up the game, leading by 20 at one point.
A positive note for the Spiders in their loss was their ability to limit turnovers, which was a big issue last game against La Salle, as the Spiders had finished with 20. The Spiders finished this game with only seven turnovers while the Flyers finished with 15.
“They are so difficult to defend and one of our things we wanted to try to do was keep our turnovers down,” said Spiders Head Coach Chris Mooney after his team’s hard-fought effort to contain Dayton’s efficient offense. “They can spark transition out of a missed shot or even a made shot they are so fast, aggressive, talented, [and] well-coached.”
Three of those 15 turnovers came from steals by junior guard Jacob Gilyard. Averaging 3.26 steals per game, Gilyard is second in the country behind only the University of Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell. Gilyard's steals, along with his great defensive play, has earned him one of the 15 spots on the 2020 Midseason Team for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. Along with his great defensive play, Gilyard also led the Spiders in points with 29.
The Spiders drop to 15-5 (5-2 in conference play) as they head to the Siegel Center this upcoming Tuesday to take on cross-city rivals VCU in a crucial A-10 matchup.
The Richmond Spiders will tip-off against the VCU Rams at the Siegel Center this Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Contact sports writer Krystian Hajduczka at email@example.com