The University of Richmond Spider’s suffered a heartbreaking 62-64 loss in the 87th Capital City Classic against the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams on Saturday after rallying back from a ten point deficit to come up short in the final seconds of the game.
Graduates Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden led the Spiders offense in points, scoring 14 and 18 points respectively from the field. Golden added to his stat sheet with nine boards and two steals.
The first half of the game was a back-and-forth battle for both teams. VCU implemented its full-court press defense effectively, slowing down UR’s offense and forcing 10 turnovers.
“It was uncharacteristic of us to have so many turnovers in the first half,” UR Head Coach Chris Mooney said. “We settled down in the second half, but obviously that’s what VCU pressure will do to you. It makes you uncomfortable, they’re aggressive and quick.”
The Ram’s defense held UR’s offense to 17 points through the first 15 minutes of the game. But with four and a half minutes left in the first half, UR’s offense caught fire, lighting up the Rams’ defense behind a pair of three-point shots from graduate Nick Sherod and a pair of layups from Golden. UR cut VCU’s lead to three, with the Spiders down 29-32 heading into the second half.
UR’s offense shot poorly throughout the game, shooting 35% from the field and only 18% from the three-point line.
“We don’t solely rely on threes, but we need to make some in order to win,” Mooney said. “That’s too low of a number for us. Credit to VCU’s defense, they made a couple of stops down the stretch and played well.”
The game was decided in the final minutes of play. Richmond had just tied the game at 59-59 when one of VCU’s best defenders, sophomore Adrian Baldwin Jr., had just fouled out of the game. VCU took the lead behind a mid-range jumper from senior forward Vince Williams. With under a minute left, UR graduate Nathan Cayo caught an offensive rebound and hit a put-back to tie the game back at 61-61.
But with 25 seconds left in the game, VCU’s Williams hit a dagger of a three-point shot, giving the Rams the lead at 64-61. A free throw from junior Tyler Burton gave UR a two-point deficit, leaving the score at 62-64. With three seconds on the clock and UR in possession, the Spiders passed the ball quickly down the court and gave Gilyard an open three point shot to win the game.
Gilyard’s shot was off. The Spiders lost at home 62-64.
In poetic fashion the game was played on the same day as the first Capital City Classic. On January 29, 1976, UR and VCU faced off for the first time, ending in a 71-66 victory for the Spiders. Since then, the two teams have faced off 86 other times. The Spiders currently have a record of 31-56 in the Capital City Classic.
Before the game officially started, there was a ceremony honoring Golden , who recently became the fourth Spider to reach 2,000 career points. He joins Spider legends Johnny Newman (1986), Kevin Anderson (2011) and Michael Perry (1981) in this exclusive milestone. Golden is now one of four other active NCAA Division I players with over 2,000 career points.
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Richmond will look to bounce back next week in an away game at Duquesne on Tuesday night.
Contact sports writer Ben de Lemos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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