After missing 28 of their 36 shots in the first half, the University of Richmond women’s basketball team came together in the second half to overcome a 16-point deficit and beat the Xavier Musketeers 73-63 in overtime.
Led by strong efforts from senior Rachael Bilney, and juniors, Kristina King and Becca Wann, the Spiders closed out the second half on a 20-4 run, sending the game into an extra period.
The Spiders’ shooting struggles were felt especially by their senior leader, Bilney, who missed every shot she took in the first half, including all five 3-pointers. The second half and overtime was a different story for Bilney, as she made seven of her eight 3-point attempts to finish with a game-high, 22 points.
“I hadn’t been shooting well for the past couple weeks, so I figured at some point my shots were going to have to start going in,” Bilney said. “I just kept saying to myself, ‘They’re going to go in, they’re going to go in,’ and eventually they did.”
With 8:41 left in the second half, and the Spiders losing 39-55, Bilney hit a 3-pointer that started the Spider comeback. Bilney and King would combine to score 12 of the next 20 points for the Spiders to take the game into overtime.
As the Spiders mounted their comeback, the Robins Center fans came alive to help propel their team to victory. King noted that the crowd’s excitement was vital in the comeback and was comparable to the crowd at the recent men’s basketball game at home against VCU.
King, who finished the game with 19 points, said that watching the men’s team overcome a similar situation so recently, helped the team believe that the game was not lost. The team kept repeating the phrase, “Refuse to Lose,” to help them keep come back from such a large deficit, she said.
Overtime belonged to Bilney and the Spiders, as they outscored Xavier 14-4 in the final period. The Spiders defense stifled the Musketeers and did not allow a single point in the last three minutes.
The Spiders shot only 22.2 percent from the field in the first half, compared to 46.4 percent for the Musketeers, which led to a nine-point lead for Xavier going into halftime. The Musketeers’ size and strength inside made it difficult for the Spiders, who were outrebounded 53-36 in the game.
Coach Michael Shafer and the team changed the defensive scheme in the locker room at halftime, which helped keep Xavier from scoring easy baskets. He said that the team’s defense had picked up in the second half, which was the reason it was able to make up the deficit.
“This was the first time we had beaten [Xavier] since 2005, so this win feels really good,” Bilney said. “It makes it even more special because it was televised.”
Contact reporter J.R. Riddick at firstname.lastname@example.org