They say home is where the heart is, and that has certainly rang true for the University of Richmond men’s basketball team, who just won its sixth-straight game at the Robins Center Dec. 21.
In their last game before the team’s holiday break, the Spiders defeated the University at Buffalo 72-66, bringing the team’s record to 7-5 with just one game remaining until conference play begins Jan. 6.
Against the Bulls, graduate center Neal Quinn started the game off strong for the Spiders, scoring UR’s first three baskets to give him 6 points early on in the first half.
“It’s always the plan, but we’ve just been talking to [Quinn] about having that mindset of really trying to score,” UR Head Coach Chris Mooney said in a postgame press conference. “And the more he tries to score, the more clear passes are.”
The Bulls would bounce back, leading UR 10-8 at the 16:02 mark, but from there, the Spiders got into their groove offensively and took control of the game.
With a minute and 40 seconds to go in the first half, graduate forward Zae Bigelow broke away for a tomahawk slam dunk to put the Spiders ahead by 14 points, 40-26. UR finished the half on top, leading the Bulls by 10 points.
The Spiders stayed in control coming out of the halftime break. Despite some stretches where they could not find the bottom of the net, with just over six minutes to go in regulation, UR was able to pad its lead to as many as 20 points with some energy-inducing plays.
Quinn had a dunk and a jumper, Bigelow hit two free throws and graduate guard Jordan King hit a 3-pointer to make the score 64-44 with 6:35 left in the game.
Unfortunately for UR, its lead would begin to falter in the final minutes of the game, as some sloppiness caught up with the Spiders. The team’s shooting also suffered in the second half, as the Spiders shot under 30 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.
Suddenly, the Spiders’ lead was cut down to just six points with 1:05 left remaining in the game, which is how much UR would end up winning by. As play-by-play commentator and “Voice of the Spiders” Bob Black said on the broadcast, things got “a little too close for comfort.”
“It’s inexcusable,” Quinn said, referring to the final minutes of the game. “It’s not who we are, it’s not what we do and it just can’t happen again.”
UR was ultimately able to come away with the victory, but it wasn’t the performance from the team Mooney had hoped for.
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“I’m pleased we won the game tonight, though disappointed that we didn’t play a better game,” Mooney said.
The Spiders had four players score in double figures, despite closing out the game with the score closer than they would’ve liked.
Quinn was the Spiders’ top scorer, finishing with 23 points. Bigelow and King chipped in 15 and 10 points, respectively, and senior guard Dji Bailey had another strong performance with 13 points. Bigelow also had 12 rebounds in the contest.
UR will have a little over a week off before its next game, which will be against Lafayette College at 4 p.m. Dec. 30.
“I think that we’re only gonna get better, especially as we continue to gel, continue to get better,” Quinn said. “I think the sky’s the limit for this team.”
Contact sports editor Jimmy James at email@example.com.
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