It is Jan. 7, 2023.
The Spiders trail 73-72 behind Atlantic 10 conference opponent Duquesne University.
This is sophomore Jason Roche’s first sold-out game in the Robins Center. Roche’s father, Patrick, flew in from San Francisco to see him play.
With seven seconds to go in regulation, Roche hits a 3-pointer to give the Spiders the lead.
This is his 33rd 3-pointer of the season in just 16 games played.
According to Roche, that game-clinching shot is something the Spiders practice all the time.
Perhaps this is why Roche said he didn’t really feel anything when it went in.
“It wasn’t until the next day that I kind of was able to recognize that I made that type of shot,” Roche said.
Roche said he tries to be hyper-focused in those moments. He knew the Spiders had to get a stop to seal the game.
He played in a game before when he hit what looked like the game-winning shot, but the other team scored a quick basket to ultimately win the state championship, Roche said.
Roche, a guard for the University of Richmond men’s basketball team, averages 7.1 points per game. In 21 games with the Spiders, he has made 40 3-pointers and has shot 40% from 3-point range.
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Against Coppin State University on Dec. 28, Roche had a season-high of 16 points, all of which came from behind the arc.
Roche transferred to UR in the fall of 2022 from The Citadel, a military school in Charleston, South Carolina.
At The Citadel, he started in 30 games and averaged 13.2 points per game. In his lone season with the Bulldogs, he made 110 3-pointers in 31 games and was named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year.
“Shooting has definitely been something that I always have been pretty good at,” Roche said. “Even when I was [in] fifth, sixth grade, just playing AAU, it’s always been something that I’ve been really confident with.”
This season, Roche had to adapt to a new role with the Spiders — one that is different from at The Citadel. At UR, with the exception of one game against the College of William and Mary, Roche has come off the bench in every game this season.
“At The Citadel, I played the whole game,” Roche said. “I never came out. And here, it definitely was an adjustment, but I knew that coming in that they had older guys. I mean they just won the championship the year before.”
Despite the change, Roche feels he has gotten really comfortable in his role, he said.
“When I get on the court, I’m basically doing all the same things, just in a different system,” Roche said. “I still gotta try and find ways to affect the game. Even if that’s not shooting, trying to get rebounds and get all the hustle plays and an occasional assist or something like that.”
Roche joined a UR team that had just came off an Atlantic 10 Championship and an appearance in the 2022 NCAA tournament.
Three of UR’s starters, graduate forward Matt Grace, graduate guard Andre Gustavson and senior forward Tyler Burton were all a part of last year’s March Madness-bound squad.
Roche said being able to defend experienced players like Burton has made him a lot better as a player.
Along with Roche, senior center Neal Quinn and graduate forward Zae Bigelow also transferred to UR.
In the past, UR was not a team defined by transfers but, rather, student-athletes who stayed at the school for their entire careers. Former Spiders Grant Golden and Jacob Gilyard, who now play in the NBA G-League, are perfect examples, as the duo played at UR for six and five seasons, respectively.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, collegiate athletes gained an extra season of eligibility, thus making transferring more common throughout NCAA basketball.
Roche said he roomed with Quinn and Bigelow in the summer.
“I feel like we’ve been able to build a good relationship, and, even next year, we’ll be able to continue that and get even better and better playing together,” Roche said.
Bigelow and Roche even talk after games, as they are lockermates, Roche said.
“We always talk about how much fun it is to play in the Robins Center and how lucky we are to play in this environment,” Roche said.
When it came time to choose which school to transfer to, Roche said the family atmosphere in the locker room and the fact that players do not typically transfer out were things he was looking for.
Roche also liked UR’s playing style and the unselfishness of the players. He thought he would fit in well with his skill set.
Roche’s playing style at UR thus far has been defined by 3-pointers.
“I mean I feel like I’ve always been the 3-point guy,” Roche said. “I feel like last year, that first game against [the University of Pittsburgh] kind of set the tone for what my career could be. And I feel like that will always be my calling card.”
In that inaugural game against Pittsburgh last year with The Citadel, Roche hit eight 3-pointers and scored 27 points.
However, Roche wants to be remembered for more than just 3-point shooting.
"Outside of 3-point shooting, something that I would like, after my time at Richmond," Roche said, referring to his legacy, "Is somebody who just came in, was an everyday guy, showed up every day at practice and every game and brought whatever energy was needed to help the team win."
Contact sports editor Jimmy James at email@example.com
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