No. 19 Spiders return to court, hold off Wofford

Spiders return to court after bizarre week

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Following a week shaken up by COVID-19 issues, Richmond returned to the court on Monday, though faced a tougher test than perhaps expected.

The No. 19 Spiders got 18 points from Jacob Gilyard and held off a hungry Wofford squad, 77-72. The win improves Richmond to 3-0 as the team begins a week that sees three games on the schedule.

Richmond opened the game on an 11-0 run and held a 56-44 lead with 13:22 remaining in the game. A 10-0 Wofford spurt during the next four minutes trimmed the Spider advantage to just two points and the Terriers would take over the lead with a Tray Hollowell three pointer at the 4:30 mark, 64-63.

Down 70-65, Richmond’s offense caught a spark. Grant Golden connected on a triple as Tyler Burton was fouled away from the ball. Burton hit one of two free throws to cut the Spider deficit to one and Golden would put the home team in front the next time down. A Gilyard step-back three pointer would prove to be the dagger as Richmond picked up its third victory of the campaign.

In addition to his point total, Gilyard chipped in six assists and five steals. Golden added 15 points, Burton contributed 12 points and seven rebounds and Nathan Cayo scored 11 points and pulled down six boards. Wofford’s Storm Murphy tallied a game-high 21 points.

The win comes in a contest that was scheduled two days prior to tipoff, after Richmond’s basketball activities were halted for five days due to three positive coronavirus tests. After three staff members tested positive, each would test negative the following three days, so it appears COVID-19 was not present within the Spiders after all.

“That part’s really frustrating and hard to just dismiss,” head coach Chris Mooney said after Monday’s win. “We feel like we are doing so many things right and trying to give ourselves the best chance to play, so when it comes down to that, that’s frustrating.”

Richmond missed five days of practice and two games, a road contest at College of Charleston and its originally scheduled home opener against Furman. Mooney says the program will try to get those games back, either by rescheduling the match-ups that were missed or with different opponents. While the team would not attribute any sloppy play on Monday to the pause, it seemed evident that it was out of sync at times.

The Spiders are also warming up to playing as a ranked team. They’ll get each opponent’s best shot based in part on the number next to their name and the players know they have to improve and be ready.

“This is a situation that we haven’t really been in,” said Gilyard. “We’ve never been somebody that guys are aiming to play, looking forward to playing. We’re going to have a target on our back. We have to be better.”

Richmond is back in action on Wednesday, hosting Northern Iowa at the Robins Center at 6:00 PM.

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