RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On paper it looked as though Wednesday’s NIT first round match-up would be an uphill climb for Richmond. The Spiders crested the hill and then some.
Richmond got 18 points from both Tyler Burton and Jacob Gilyard and erased an 11 point first half deficit, topping Toledo, 76-66, in Denton, Texas. The victory snapped a three game losing streak and propels the Spiders to next week’s NIT quarterfinals.
With Blake Francis (back) and Grant Golden (finger) both out and unavailable, Chris Mooney used an eight man rotation with each player seeing at least 12 minutes. Down 31-20 in the opening frame, Richmond went on a run to cut the lead to one, before the Rockets opened up their advantage to 38-32 by halftime.
The Spiders erased the gap and took the lead on Matt Grace’s short jumper with 11:24 remaining, part of a string of six straight UR points scored by the junior forward. The two squads would see-saw back and forth until Richmond moved in front for good on a Nathan Cayo jumper with 5:58 to play. That sparked a 9-0 Spider run that would put the game away.
In addition to his point output, Burton added 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double. Gilyard chipped in five assists and four steals and moved into sole possession of first place on Richmond’s all-time career assists list. Nathan Cayo contributed 15 points, while Soulyemane Koureissi added 10 points.
The Spiders outscored Toledo in the second half, 44-28, and held the Rockets to 28 percent from the floor in that frame.
Richmond now awaits its NIT quarterfinals opponent, as the Spiders will face the winner of Saint Louis and Mississippi State. That quarterfinal showdown will tip off on Thursday, March 25.
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