Spiders erase 21-point deficit before falling to OT in Charleston
CHARLESTON, South Carolina – For 24 minutes Monday night, almost nothing went right for the Richmond men’s basketball team at TD Arena in Charleston. The Spiders trailed Charleston 56-35 early in the second half as the Cougars, backed by a boisterous home crowd, looked set for a blistering win.
But Richmond refused to go quietly. Shot started falling for the Spiders, allowing UR to use an all-court press to force turnovers and speed up Charleston’s offense. An 11-0 run by the Spiders soon followed, cutting Richmond’s deficit by 18 with 11:59 to play in regulation at 64-57 with 9:44 to go.
The Spiders kept pushing, shooting less than one possession on a three-pointer from Jason Rock with 6:12 to go. With 2:40 remaining, Richmond took its first lead of the game on a three-pointer by Isaiah Bigelow to make it 77-76, sending the Spiders bench into hysterics and calming the crowd.
Consecutive field goals of Tyler Burton gave the Spiders an 81-78 advantage in the final minute of regulation time, but the Spiders fouled Charleston’s Reyne Smith on a late three-point attempt and the Cougars guard made all three free throws to force overtime.
Once again in the extra period, it looked like the Spiders would pick up one of the biggest comeback wins in program history. Burton scored UR’s first six overtime points, and by André Gustavson free throw with 2:44 left gave Richmond an 88-83 advantage.
But Charleston responded with five straight runs to tie the game at 88 before Burton hit a left block turnover with 28 seconds left. Until their last chance, Jaylon Scott of Charleston drove hard to the basket, made the layup and was fouled. His free throw put the Cougars back in front for good as Charleston hung on for the 92-90 win.
Burton finished with a career-high 38 points, the most for any Spider since Jan. 19, 2013, when Darien Brothers scored 39 against Charlotte. “It was a good test,” Burton said after the game. “Everyone in that group was talking. Everyone was communicating and shouting and was very passionate about what was going on. We were all really sold on it,” Burton said of UR’s comeback effort.
“I just told the guys very briefly how proud I was and how much you could see on this team tonight,” the Spiders head coach said. Chris Mooney. “We’ve got the guys who can do it when things aren’t going well. Anybody can be a favorite and come out and go when things are going well. But when you’re late and it’s tough – that’s was like they were with every shot the roof was going down But when you know you did – we matched it soon enough it wasn’t like last second – there’s a some pride you can develop.
Burton shot 13 of 20 from the field, including 4-8 from three-pointers, and 8-8 from the foul line while adding six rebounds and four assists.
“Tyler was just awesome,” Mooney said. “The bench was amazing. The guys were amazing in the huddles. There was never a dropout, which obviously isn’t easy when you’re 21 on the road.”
Matt Grace added 16 points for Richmond, tying his career high. Bigelow finished with 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. jason nelsonwho was named Atlantic Rookie of the Week 10 earlier Monday, added 10 points and four assists.
“We all could have made one more shot. We all could have made one more defensive play. We all could have helped the defense a step earlier. But you can say ‘look what we were able to do because of that will collective and this unity and this tenacity.'”
Richmond will be back in action Thursday at Robins Center against Wichita State. The tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the match will be broadcast on MASN and ESPN Plus.