The Robins Center has been especially kind to the University of Richmond men’s basketball this season, as the Spiders picked up their ninth-straight win against the George Mason Patriots, 77-70, in another Atlantic 10 thriller on Jan. 13.
Last season, the Spiders lost to the Patriots three times – twice during the regular season and once in the second round of the 2023 A-10 Tournament, where UR’s efforts to repeat their success from the 2022 postseason fell short.
This time around, though, it was the Spiders who got the job done on the hardwood, picking up another victory to start their A-10 campaign 3-0.
“What a great atmosphere, great conference game,” UR Head Coach Chris Mooney said in a postgame press conference. “Really proud of how we played.”
GMU came out the gates strong offensively, jumping to a 12-7 lead in the early minutes of the game, but the Spiders shot at a high clip to begin play to counter the Patriots’ quick start. UR started the first half shooting 6-for-8 from the field by the 13-minute mark.
Eventually, graduate guard Jordan King caught fire from the field and led the Spiders on an 11-0 run to put UR ahead 25-17 with just over 11 minutes to go in the first half.
King shot lights-out for the Spiders early on, scoring 16 points along with four 3-pointers before the halfway mark of the first half. He finished with 23 points in the first half alone.
“[King], of course, was just tremendous,” Mooney said. “I don’t necessarily remember a half like that for a Spider since I’ve been here.”
But it wasn’t just the Spiders’ efforts on offense that put the game in their control – it was their defense as well. Graduate forward Zae Bigelow had a chase down block that was a representation of such, which kept the Spiders’ lead at 12 points with 3:34 to go in the first half.
By halftime, the Spiders were ahead of the Patriots by double digits, 43-32.
The Spiders cooled off a little bit, starting the second half by missing their first two shots, but with Bigelow’s bucket just under two minutes into the half, UR was off and running.
The Spiders were locked in for a stretch lasting just under seven minutes, where their lead swelled to as many as 17 points. At this point in the game, UR led GMU 60-43.
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Unfortunately for the Spiders, over the course of the rest of the game, the Patriots slowly but surely crept back within striking distance.
“I feel like we just stopped playing hard,” King said. “I feel like we thought we won the game with 13 minutes left and we realized that five-minute mark that it was a game. And we needed to work very hard in order to get this win.”
GMU had decreased the deficit to just three points with 2:31 to go in regulation and with just over a minute to play, it was just a two-point game.
The Spiders ultimately emerged with the win, walking away with the victory after padding their lead at the free-throw line in the final seconds of the contest.
King was UR’s top scorer, finishing with 31 points, just three shy of his total in the Spiders’ season opener win against the Virginia Military Institute Nov. 6. King also had 5 rebounds and 5 steals, as well as six 3-pointers on the night.
UR had three others score in double figures.
Bigelow finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds, graduate center Neal Quinn scored 10 points and senior guard DeLonnie Hunt, who made his first start after being out with an injury since Nov. 20 and returning for the Spiders off the bench only in their most recent game against Loyola University Chicago, scored 11 points.
It seems the Spiders are streaking at the right time, as they have won six straight games and now three-straight games to open up conference play, resulting in an 11-5 overall record.
“I just wanna win,” King said. “At the end of the day, they picked us eleventh in this league. No one probably thought we would start 3-0 in this conference, but every game matters to us. We’re always gonna be the underdogs, so we just gotta come out and fight every night.”
UR’s next game is away against Duquesne University at 7 p.m. Dec. Jan. 16.
Contact sports editor Jimmy James at email@example.com.
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