Written by Noah Goldberg
A three point barrage from Jacob Gilyard and solid contribution all around helped the Spiders control George Mason as Richmond found their first home win since December 5.
Richmond and GMU were fairly back and forth midway through the first period. With the score tied at 13 with about 13 minutes left in the half, a couple steals by Gilyard, and a foul drawn by senior Noah Yates, allowed the Spiders to start finding some momentum.
With a 6-0 run to go up 19-13, the three point shower began for Gilyard. Sophomore forward Grant Golden found Gilyard for a wide open perimeter look at about the ten minute mark. Several minutes later, Golden was double teamed on the right side and lost the ball. Trailing behind Golden, Gilyard picked up the ball and quickly put up yet another corner three. He led all scorers at the half with 16 points, including 4-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
While Gilly stole the show in the first, the whole team was contributing. Freshman forward Sal Koureissi, who has seen his role expand in the absence of senior Julius Johnson, made a strong impact as the first substitution. While he didn’t light up the stats sheet, he came in and got two tough rebounds, including ripping what would’ve been an offensive board out of the hands of a GMU player.
Freshman guard Jake Wojcik also made several impact plays, including drawing a huge charge against Ian Boyd. With all around production, Richmond was able to go into the locker room up 37-30 at the half.
Opening the half, Grant and Gilyard appeared to be on the same brain wave. In the half court offense, Golden looked off Gilyard’s defender, then sent a beautiful feed on a backdoor cut for an easy Gilyard layup. With about 14 minutes left in the game, Gilyard had 23 and Golden 13, already double Grant’s first half total.
Steals were helping the Spiders find lots of transition production. They appeared to capitalize on nearly every opportunity as a Gilyard take away led to a rare Koureissi three, which had the crowd jumping. Up 60-50 with 8 minutes left, the Spiders eventually just went unconscious from three, spiking their lead to 72-52 with seven minutes remaining.
The last five minutes of games, however, have been where Richmond’s struggled. After a 6-0 George Mason run, the lead was 16 for the Spiders with five left. However, the run seemed to continue for the Patriots as Richmond just couldn’t seem to score. GMU proceeded to score 13 points in a row and cut their deficit to just seven points on a tough fade away midranger by Otis Livingston.
A pivotal moment late in the game, the Spiders were able to feed off of the energy of the crowd to close it out. Golden, following an offensive and technical foul, took the game into his hands and went baseline for a reverse layup. He scored four in a row after and sophomore Nathan Cayo hit two free throws in a row, the lead was up to 11 with 1:12 left, sealing the victory.
Freshman guard Andre Gustavson, since becoming a starter earlier this season, has flashed the ability to become a fantastic driver. He’s got the quickness and handles to get to the bucket, but at times has been hesitant in his decision making. While he only went for 7 points, his three field goals were all extremely strong takes and confident decisions. Two drives in the lane for baskets (one included the foul) as well as a powerful dunk in transition showed how he’s improving not only physically but mentally.
While three point shooting has significantly improved (10-21 tonight), the all around contribution was a major factor. Freshmen Sal Koureissi and Matt Grace certainly made an impact in limited minutes. Noah Yates also came off the bench to provide a spark, netting an 18+/- on the night with 8 points.
Richmond takes down their second top five A10 team in the last three games, improving to 9-14 (3-7). They’ve likely ruined two teams’ chances for at-large tournament bids and are showing the true potential of their young core. They’ll look to find some consistency the rest of the way as the finish the homestand Saturday against GW. Tip from Robins will be at 6:00pm EST on 99.5 FM & 950 AM ESPN.