The Spiders men’s basketball team lost their first game of the season 71-87 against 11th-ranked West Virginia University on Dec. 13. This was UR’s second top-20 matchup this season.
During the opening 10 minutes, the Spiders attacked the basketball well and scored several high percentage shots right around the basket. Senior forward Nathan Cayo, who scored eight first-half points on 75% shooting, was a key contributor during this stretch.
But West Virginia’s Mountaineers were able to match the Spiders’ aggressive play with strong perimeter shooting from junior guard Jordan McCabe. The Mountaineers shot 67% from the three-point line in the first half.
“We need to provide good ball pressure and make the shots less comfortable,” UR’s head men’s basketball coach Chris Mooney said following the loss. “When you are trying to guard a shooter, the best thing is to make him uncomfortable. Make him step farther back, make him take a dribble, to make him feel more crowded. I don’t think we did a good enough job with that.”
At around the seven-minute mark of the first half, West Virginia started to pick up its on-ball defensive pressure. The Spiders had a tough time responding to this, turning over the ball 12 times in the first half.
“Their length and athleticism is disruptive,” Mooney said when asked about West Virginia's defense. “We wanted to attack the press. Once we were tentative and were not in attack mode, that cost us some really important plays.”
During this stretch, the Spiders’ offense struggled to find open shots and failed to execute on certain possessions.
“At times the offense was stagnant and we were not moving the ball well,” Cayo said. “We need to stick with our game plan.”
West Virginia was able to execute on the Spider’s late half turnovers with their strong defense and shooting, outscoring Richmond 18-3 in the final minutes of the first half. The Mountaineers’ sophomore guard Miles McBride added a spark, finishing the half with 16 points on 88% shooting. At half time, the score was 52-30 West Virginia.
The Spiders performed significantly better in the second half, as they were able to count down the score deficit. However, it was too little too late, as West Virginia continued its strong shooting performance, finishing the game with a team 58% from the field.
Following a career-high game against Northern Iowa, UR sophomore forward Tyler Burton saw another double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. In addition, sophomore forward Souleymane Koureissi had a strong defensive game in the paint for the Spiders.
UR is looking to bounce back this Wednesday against Vanderbilt University, another Power Five school matchup.
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“It’s another opportunity to play,” Cayo said of the Vanderbilt matchup. “We look forward to it and we are going to do our best to win.”
Contact sports writer Henry Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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