The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Spiders take third in Sunshine Slam with win over UNLV

<p>Graduate guard Jordan King during game against UNLV. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics.&nbsp;</p>

Graduate guard Jordan King during game against UNLV. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics. 

After two straight losses over Boston College and the University of Colorado Boulder, the Spiders got back in the win column in an all-out effort over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Nov. 21, defeating the Runnin’ Rebels 82-65 and claiming third place in the Sunshine Slam in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

The Spiders got off to a slow start from the field against the Buffaloes in the first game of the tournament, but against UNLV, it proved to be a different story.

UR started the first half on an 11-0 run, shooting 5 for 7 from the floor to open gameplay. By the time the first media timeout rolled around, the Spiders had already cruised to a 17-4 lead over the Runnin’ Rebels. 

The Spiders’ fast start did not slow down. In fact, by halftime, their lead had sweltered to 15 points. Sophomore center Mike Walz showed glimpses of his range from the floor as he hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put a bow on a dominant first 20 minutes by UR. Walz finished the game with 12 points off the bench. 

Everything seemed to be falling for the Spiders, and it was reflected in the team’s percentages from the floor. Throughout the first half, UR shot 57.14% from field goal range and hit 5 of 7 3-point jumpers on a 71.43% clip from distance. UR led UNLV 38-23 after the first half.

Graduate guard Jordan King picked right back up where he left off from the Spiders’ matchup against CU the day before and scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half. King’s scoring efforts gave him his fifth-straight game in double figures, a mark he has reached in every game he’s played thus far with the Spiders. King was named to the Sunshine Slam All-Tournament Team following the tournament. 

Graduate center Neal Quinn’s shots were also falling in the paint to help pad UR’s lead as the second half rolled around. 

In the second half, not much changed in terms of the Spiders’ shooting frenzy, as the team shot 62.96% from the field and 57.14% from 3-point range. 

With just over six minutes left in regulation, a 3-pointer from graduate forward Zae Bigelow gave the Spiders a 22-point lead, which would be their biggest of the game. Bigelow finished with a stellar performance from the field, dropping 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting. He also  grabbed 7 rebounds. 

It was a total team effort by the Spiders, and by the final buzzer, UR was ahead by 17 points. 

This convincing win is the Spiders’ third of the young season, with substantial victories already having occurred over the Virginia Military Institute and Siena College to open up their 2023-2024 campaign. UR beat VMI by 18 and Siena by 42, respectively. 

“There’s a lot more games to play, so there’s a lot more improvement that we need to do if we want to have the ultimate goal at the end of the season, which is win a championship,” King said in a press conference Nov. 17, two days after the loss to BC.

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UR will travel back home to the Robins Center for a matchup against the Queens University of Charlotte at 7 p.m. Nov. 25 before heading back on the road to face Wichita State University a few days later. 

Contact sports editor Jimmy James at jimmy.james@richmond.edu

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