Written by Noah Goldberg
Coming off of a late win against Fordham, the Spiders again closed out a tight one Saturday, beating the La Salle Explorers 84-75 on the road.
Richmond was on fire shooting the ball in the first half. Freshman guard Jake Wojcik started the game 3-3 from deep as his team went 6-9 3FG in the first period.
Their leading scorer on the season, Grant Golden had a very efficient first half. He scored a team-high twelve points on 5-6 shooting. His shooting was reflective on the Spiders as a whole, who were nearly 70% from the floor in the first twenty minutes. Despite this, the Explorers made their last four field goals and drew a foul on their last shot, heading into the half down 44-43.
The Spiders were hot out of the break, hitting four of their first five shots. After David Beatty’s jumper on the first possession for the Explorers, Richmond went on an 11-0 run to go up ten. All four buckets were scored or assisted on by Golden.
However, basketball is a game of runs, and La Salle found one of their own. They outscored Richmond 14-3 as Pookie Powell’s eighteen points helped them go up 59-58 with twelve minutes remaining.
The game would be back and forth for the rest of the way. La Salle dominated the glass, out-rebounding Richmond 35-24, including thirteen offensive boards. The Spiders stayed tenacious on defense though and did a good job preventing second chance points, despite struggling to rebound.
Grant Golden was the x-factor for Richmond, especially down the stretch. He seemed to be on the same brain wave as Jacob Gilyard all game. Golden found Gilyard on multiple backdoor cuts, displaying his excellent passing vision as a big man.
Up 69-65 with just under five minutes remaining, Golden took over. He made sure the Spiders wouldn’t fall to their late game woes, scoring or assisting on eleven of his team’s last fifteen points. This included a huge three pointer off of the backboard to put Richmond up by two possessions with thirty-three seconds left. A Wojcik steal on La Salle’s next possession would seal the victory.
The Spiders’ sophomore trio of Grant Golden, Jacob Gilyard, and Nathan Cayo had a huge game. The three scored 59 points on 80% shooting, indicative of their teams overall 67 FG% on the afternoon.
Gilyard’s contributions included 20 points, six assists, three steals, and three rebounds. His disruptive defense led to multiple transition points, something he’s done better than almost anyone in the nation. Gilyard is second in the country in steals with 3.22 per game.
Golden’s excellent night consisted of 24 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. His excellent passing has been a major part of the Spiders’ recent success, winners of four of their last five.
Richmond has struggled in the last five minutes of games this year. A young group without upperclassmen in the starting lineup, late game turnovers and poor shot selection has haunted them. After blowing a double digit lead against Fordham on Wednesday, Golden hit the game winner to close out that victory. Tonight, he did his magic again, banking in a big three pointer late. This inexperienced roster appears to be learning how to stay composed in pressure situations.
The Spiders improve to 12-15 (6-8) on the year and La Salle falls to 8-18 (6-8). With URI’s loss to Davidson Friday, Richmond jumps to eighth place in the A10, giving them a bye to day two of the conference tournament as of now. Their next game is Wednesday on the road against George Mason at 7:00pm EST. You can listen on 99.5 FM & 950 AM ESPN with coverage beginning at 6:30pm.