Senior Darien Brothers wasn’t even supposed to take the shot during Richmond’s final possession of regulation, he said.
His teammates, coach and Spider fans everywhere are sure glad he did, though. With Richmond down three points to 19th-ranked VCU and 12 seconds remaining, UR coach Chris Mooney drew up a play to get the ball into the hot hands of sophomore Kendall Anthony, Mooney said.
Though Brothers is Richmond’s leading scorer on the season and has one of the best three-point shooting percentages in the country, it was Anthony who had gotten the Spiders into position to send the game to overtime, scoring six points in six seconds after VCU took a seven-point lead with 42 seconds remaining.
“Kendall is a really tough guy, and I thought he really set the tone for that kind of toughness [at the end],” Mooney said. “He exemplified that, and the rest of the team kind of got on board.”
Brothers was certainly on board, as he took a short pass from Cedrick Lindsay and sank the game-tying shot from well behind the three-point line to tie the game at 69 and send it to overtime.
In overtime, the Spiders took advantage of the momentum to build its biggest lead of the game, 86-74 — the final score.
“I’m sure it was a really exciting game to watch, but that’s not the word I would use to describe it for us,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “We put ourselves in position to win the game, but just flat out didn’t close it out; we missed one too many free throws down the stretch.”
After VCU forward Juvonte Reddic’s putback layup gave the Rams the seven-point lead with 42 seconds remaining, the Rams missed two key free throws down the stretch.
Aside from that seven-point lead built by VCU with under five minutes remaining, Richmond was ahead most of the game, including leading the entire first half, which ended in a 32-29 Spiders advantage.
While veteran guards Anthony (26 points), Brothers (18 points) and Lindsay (13 points) were the key scorers in the second half and overtime for Richmond, it was freshmen big men Deion Taylor, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa and Terry Allen carrying the load in the first half, scoring 7, 6 and 4, respectively.
“For a freshman to play a huge game out there says a lot about their potential and future,” Brothers said. “So I think they’re definitely going to do great things.”
Richmond’s strong first half was aided by VCU’s stars getting in early foul trouble. Reddic, who finished with a game-high 20 points, picked up three in the period, while Rob Brandenberg, who later fouled out before overtime, and Treveon Graham picked up two apiece.
“[Graham’s] hurt us more than anything because he’s our leading scorer, and he finished the first half with zero points,” Smart said. “So that really affected our offense. He’s only a sophomore, and I think he really sometimes gets mentally affected when he gets in foul trouble.”
The loss is VCU’s first in its newly joined Atlantic-10 conference and snaps a 13-game winning streak, while the win gives Richmond its second in a row against a team near the top of the A-10 standings. The two teams will meet again in the Rams’ Siegel Center on March 6.
The Spiders (13-7, 3-2) next will travel to play Massachusetts on Sunday, with tip-off set for 2 p.m.
Game Notes: Richmond was forced to make an announcement that anything thrown on the court from the stands would result in a UR foul and the fan being ejected from the Robins Center after a ball hit Smart from the stands… The Spiders have now won four of its past five games against ranked opponents at home… The Robins Center was sold-out, though many fans were cheering for VCU.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at email@example.com