Providence College Friars sent home the University of Richmond Spiders after a devastating 79-51 loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament on March 19 at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.
The Spiders were one of many teams that came into March Madness as underdogs. Outlets such as Washington Post and MidMajorMadness considered UR’s victory against Iowa unexpected and upsetting.
For many of the boys in blue including graduate students Nathan Cayo, Jacob Gilyard, Grant Golden, and Nick Sherod their run with the Spiders came to an end against Providence. But they left their mark in the team’s history as they took UR back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2011, an 11-year wait for fans.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” said Spiders’ head coach Chris Mooney in the post-game conference. “What our guys and especially our seniors have done for us and what they’ve meant to their school and program is beyond words.”
Providence won the initial tip-off in the first half. The Friars made quick work while in possession by putting up 7 points by the 18-minute mark, leaving UR in a drought.
Forward Nathan Cayo made a quick play to score UR’s first points and Golden came close behind to add his own two points and brought the score to 10-4 with 15:48 remaining. Cayo’s 18 points took the standout role of the night, a place usually taken by guard Gilyard.
Following a timeout, senior forward Matt Grace went up for a layup and was fouled, which brought him to the free-throw line where he went two-for-two in frees. He brought up the score to 10-6.
Providence followed with a quick three but Cayo added two tallies, making it a 5 point game with the score sat at 13-8. A failed dunk attempt by Providence gave Golden an opportunity to score a snazzy layup and minimize Providence’s lead to 12 points.
The Spiders’ offense wasn’t up to par and with numerous valiant offensive attempts to close the point deficit, UR was down by 14 points with less than four minutes remaining. While some offensive attempts proved successful, the Spiders entered the locker room at halftime losing 39-24.
Despite the poor first half, the Spiders entered into the second half with their fans back home fully supporting them.
A little stepback jumper by Gilyard broke UR’s dry streak but still left the Spiders down 57-32 with 12:57 remaining in the second half. But the Spiders’ spirits in the Robins Center were still high and the cheers continued.
Despite a combined 35% field goal percentage, the Spiders continued stalking their prey and searched for offensive openings.
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Gilyard worked his way down the court and after a short game of hot potato with the ball, a quick pass to Cayo gave him the opportunity to score a layup and tally two points.
Cayo worked his way through Providence’s defense and added another layup at the 9:34 mark and brought the score to 66-39, still Providence’s game.
Golden found himself underneath Providence’s basket where he caught a rebound and worked his way down the court to score a quick two points.
The 7:00 mark highlighted the 30 point lead held by Providence where the Friars took the free throw line and held a 71-41 score.
Despite the heavy lead, the Spiders did not give up and kept searching for opportunities. Senior guard Andre Gustavson scored a quick layup and kept UR alive and in the fight.
Gustavson kept the Spiders going with another two points with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
The remaining three minutes of the game brought no Saint Patrick’s luck for the Spiders and the NCAA Sweet 16 dream came to a screeching halt for UR and their fans following the 79-51 defeat.
“This is what we came back for, this is what we wanted to do,” Golden said in the post-game press conference. “Regardless, nobody can say we didn’t do that.”
Contact sports co-editor Andrew Cardounel at email@example.com.
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