The Collegian
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Spiders unable to take down VCU in Capital City Classic

<p>Senior Tyler Burton during the basketball game against VCU on Jan. 20 at the Robins Center. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics.&nbsp;</p>

Senior Tyler Burton during the basketball game against VCU on Jan. 20 at the Robins Center. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics. 

The University of Richmond men’s basketball team surrendered the Capital City Classic to Virginia Commonwealth University at home on Jan. 20. 

It was a sellout game in the Robins Center as the Rams defeated the Spiders 74-62. 

This was the 90th Capital City Classic played between UR and VCU, dating back to 1976. With this win, VCU now leads the series 58-32 all-time. 

The last time UR played VCU was in the 2022 Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals where a six-seeded UR emerged victorious against a three-seeded VCU and eventually went on to win the A-10 Championship

However, this time around, VCU had the edge and secured the victory. 

UR and VCU’s play proved back and forth to begin the game. 

VCU started quickly, leading 2-0 through the first three minutes, but UR answered with a 3-pointer from redshirt first-year guard Jason Nelson and an offensive rebound and tip-in from senior center Neal Quinn to make it 5-2. 

From there, the score continued to fluctuate as the lead changed six times early in the first half. 

With 11:30 left in the first half, a 3-pointer from senior forward Tyler Burton put UR up 12-10, but this would be the team’s last lead of the night. 

Burton finished as the Spiders’ leading scorer with 14 points. During the game, he passed his former teammate Nathan Cayo to become UR’s 25th all-time leading scorer. 

A little over three minutes later, VCU jumped out to a 21-14 lead with 8:17 to go in the first half. 

Two free throws from graduate forward Matt Grace cut the deficit to four points with just over two minutes to go before halftime, but VCU was able to increase its lead to 10 points, 36-26, as the first-half buzzer sounded.

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Coming out of halftime, UR committed five fouls in the first three minutes and 37 seconds. VCU scored first and the Spiders found themselves down by 12 points early into the second half. 

Every time UR attempted to inch closer, VCU would make another basket and continue to pull ahead. 

With 9:45 to go in regulation, the Spiders made it a four-point game with VCU up 51-47. 

A Nelson turnover allowed the Rams to jump back up to a six-point lead. UR committed 16 turnovers in the game. 

UR cut the deficit to four points again, 53-49, but VCU pulled away and the Spiders were unable to catch up. With 1:22 to go, the Rams led the Spiders 74-53. 

“We had one stretch where we closed it I think to four in the second half and felt we were doing some things well and being aggressive,” UR head coach Chris Mooney said in a postgame press conference. “But we weren’t able to sustain it. We had a few too many turnovers and then obviously [VCU’s] pressure feeds off of that.”

This loss brings UR’s record to 11-9 on the season and 4-3 in conference play. 

After a bounce-back win against the University of Rhode Island on Jan. 17, the Spiders moved to fourth place in the A-10. After this loss, UR dropped to sixth place in the conference and VCU moved to first place. 

“Leading the team in turnovers with six of ‘em in my fourth game at the Robins Center against [VCU], it’s unacceptable and that just can’t happen, especially if we’re trying to win games,” Burton said after the game.

The Spiders have 11 games remaining in their schedule. The team will face crosstown rival VCU again on Feb. 24 at the Siegel Center. 

UR’s next game is against the University of Massachusetts at 7 p.m. on Jan. 25, beginning another two-game stretch on the road. 

“We’re trying to win the conference,” Burton said, speaking about the team’s mindset heading into the next two games. “None of that changes. It’s just all about us staying together right now. Not getting too low and not getting too high when things start going well again.”

Contact sports editor Jimmy James at 

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