The Collegian
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Spiders' Stride to Victory: Overpowering Siena with Teamwork and Talent

<p>The Richmond Spiders play against Siena and win at the Robins Center Nov. 11. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics.&nbsp;</p>

The Richmond Spiders play against Siena and win at the Robins Center Nov. 11. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics. 

The University of Richmond men's basketball team hosted the Siena College Saints for the second game of the regular season at the Robins Center Nov. 11. The men's basketball team came off of a commanding home victory against the Virginia Military Institute, led by the outstanding debut of graduate guard Jordan King, and was looking to protect its home court once again.

In the first half of the game, the Spiders immediately set a dominant tone, attacking the paint and seizing control early on. King electrified the crowd with a stunning crossover, step-back move, nailing the first 3-pointer of the game. They quickly established an 11-4 lead in the first few possessions, leading up to the first timeout with 15:44 left in the period. However, following the timeout, both teams struggled to find their scoring rhythm. 

The arena was reignited when senior guard DeLonnie Hunt intercepted a floating pass and assisted junior guard Jason Roche for an open three at 7:15, followed by senior guard Dji Bailey's emphatic tomahawk dunk through traffic at 5:22, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. 

The Spiders' defense was formidable; they forced 13 turnovers and limited Siena to a mere 36% field goal percentage, while they themselves shot an impressive 56%. This defensive prowess was reflected in the halftime score of 43-22 in favor of the Spiders. 

The Spiders also excelled in capitalizing on turnovers, scoring 17 points off turnovers compared to Siena's 2, and their bench contributed 12 points to Siena's none by 04:13 in the first half. Graduate forward Zae Bigelow led the half with 12 points, and Hunt's performance was particularly powerful, finishing the half with a +/- of 23, underscoring UR's overall dominance in the first half.

Building on the momentum from the first half, the Spiders continued their commanding performance into the second half. Sophomore center Mike Walz opened with a swish three-pointer at 15:45, further energizing the team. He continued his impressive play with an and-one two-handed dunk at 14:27, even as two defenders attempted to block him. 

The Spiders' offensive prowess was on full display as Roche hit a 3-pointer to bring the score to 60-34 at 13:15, followed closely by Bailey's corner 3-pointer, which pushed the score to 63-37. Hunt's skillful dribbling through the paint set up Bailey for a spectacular sideline slam, highlighting their seamless teamwork.

Midway into the second half, the Spiders had extended their lead significantly, with the scoreboard reading 68-39 at the 10:53 mark. Their dominance was unrelenting, and with 4:45 left to go, the score had ballooned to 85-44. 

UR amassed 36 bench points compared to Siena's 3, forced 19 turnovers while committing only 5, and maintained a remarkable 61% game field goal percentage against Siena's 39%.

The final score of 90-48 in favor of the Spiders was a testament to their dominance throughout the game. Their defensive and offensive strategies were successful and well-executed, leading to a comprehensive victory. 

In the postgame press conference, a major focus was on the team's chemistry and cohesion. 

When Bigelow was asked about how having a team full of new guys affected their team chemistry, he replied saying, “Chemistry is not going to be a problem with this team…we trust each other.” 

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With this commanding victory, the Spiders’ record now stands at an impressive 2-0 as they prepare to face their next challenge on the road against Boston College at 7 p.m. Nov. 15, an Atlantic Coast Conference school known for its experienced roster and coaching. This upcoming matchup is anticipated to be a significant test of the Spiders' capabilities and resilience.

Contact sports writer Waleed Said at waleed.said@richmond.edu.

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