The University of Richmond men’s basketball team overcame a 22-point deficit to defeat Duquesne University 75-73 on Jan. 7 in a sold-out game at the Robins Center.
After a loss against George Mason on Dec. 31 to start conference play and a win against George Washington University on Jan. 4, the Spiders battled back against the Dukes and won their second straight Atlantic 10 conference game in front of a crowd of 7,201 people.
The first nine and a half minutes of the game proved back and forth as the Spiders and Dukes traded baskets and the game stayed close.
However, the Dukes silenced the Spiders with a 34-11 run and made 12 straight field goals — nine of which came from 3-point range. This put Duquesne up by 22 points with 4:03 left in the first half.
The Spiders cut the deficit to 15 points after a foul sent senior forward Tyler Burton to the free-throw line with 0.2 seconds left in the first half.
Burton scored 15 of UR’s first 28 points. He finished the game with 23 points and 8 rebounds — his 16th straight game with double figures and sixth straight game with 20+ points.
The Dukes led UR 49-34 at halftime.
However, what was once a 15-point deficit was slowly but surely erased as the Spiders struck early out of halftime. With 17:18 left in the second half, UR went on an 11-0 run to make it 51-49 in favor of the Dukes.
Early in the second half, Burton went down with an abdominal cramp which took him out of the game. But, after roughly two and a half minutes of gameplay later, Burton returned, and the Spiders had their leading scorer to help with the comeback effort.
With 9:38 left in regulation, the Spiders led the Dukes 57-56 and took their first lead of the game since the 12:15 mark in the first half.
Later, the Spiders jumped ahead by five points and the score showed 66-61 with 6:03 to go.
The rest of the game was back and forth, but in the end, the Spiders escaped with the victory.
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The Dukes took a one-point lead with 21 seconds left in the game, but sophomore guard Jason Roche nailed a clutch 3-pointer to put the Spiders up by two with seven seconds on the clock.
“I was kind of supposed to be a decoy on that play,” Roche said in the post-game press conference. “We were trying to look for the two-man game with Tyler [Burton] and Matt [Grace] that had been working pretty well throughout the whole game.”
The Dukes had a chance for a final shot, but missed, keeping the score 75-73 and giving the Spiders their eighth win at home and their biggest comeback win during UR head coach Chris Mooney’s 18-year tenure.
“It’s just battling,” Burton said in the post-game press conference. “It’s not the first time we’ve been there before, it’s not the second time we’ve been there before either. So we have some experience being down by that much. And you just gotta take the punches and you gotta punch back and keep fighting, and that’s what we did.”
Mooney said that he thought the key to coming back in the game was finishing the first half well.
“Called the second timeout of the first half and in the last four minutes, we cut it from 22 to 15,” Mooney said. “I thought that was really, really important, and that helped us. It didn’t seem insurmountable then because the last four minutes had gone our way.”
With this win, UR improves to 9-7 on the season and 2-1 in conference play.
This is the sixth time this season that the Spiders have found themselves within four or fewer points of their opponent to finish the game.
In the other five close games, the Spiders fell short and lost.
The Spiders lost 92-90 in overtime against the College of Charleston on Nov. 14; 56-53 against Wichita State University on Nov. 17; 74-71 in overtime to Syracuse University on Nov. 21; 58-57 to the College of William & Mary on Dec. 3; and 62-58 to George Mason University on Dec. 31.
This time around, however, the Spiders emerged victorious.
UR’s next game is at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11 at Davidson College, beginning a two-game stretch on the road.
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