The University of Richmond men’s basketball team won its third straight game since losing Cedrick Lindsay and Derrick Williams Saturday evening at the Robins Center, beating Fordham University, 82-70.
The Spiders did not feel sorry for themselves when they learned Lindsay, who suffered a torn meniscus in each knee, and Williams, who left the team for personal reasons, were done for the season, and their recent focus led to this winning streak, head coach Chris Mooney said.
“I thought we refocused,” Mooney said, “and I thought we zeroed in on each task at hand. Whether that be the first half of a game, or one possession, or an inbounds play, we’ve really been a very focused group.”
Kendall Anthony was one of four Spiders to score in double figures, finishing with a team-high 24 points, 17 of which came in the second half.
Anthony’s play impressed Fordham head coach Tom Pecora, calling Anthony, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer at Fordham in January, a “special, little player.”
“He relishes the challenge of being the main man right now for them and he does a good job,” Pecora said. “He influences so many plays, even when he doesn’t score the basketball.”
Deion Taylor added 13 points, and ShawnDre’ Jones, whose minutes have greatly increased since Lindsay’s injury, scored a career-high 14 points.
Lindsay’s injury gave Mooney an easy solution to getting Jones more playing time, something that’s been a problem for him all year, Mooney said.
“I have been saying all year we’ve needed to get [Jones] to play more,” Mooney said. “He’s very confident. That’s probably what’s the biggest difference between him and other freshmen.”
Jones described himself as a cheerleader on the bench prior to his bump in minutes, but he knew that minutes would be hard to earn given Lindsay and Anthony were playing ahead of him, he said.
“I knew those are two great guards,” Jones said, “and [there’s] not much time you can take them out of the game anyways.”
Fordham’s offense primarily came from freshman Jon Severe, who leads the Atlantic 10 in points per game, and senior Branden Frazier. The two combined to shoot 35 of Fordham’s 59 field-goal attempts: Severe scored a game-high 28 points and Frazier scored 24. No other Ram scored more than four points.
The lack of balance does not concern Pecora, he said, but he wishes the Rams could find one more option to take some of the load off of Severe and Frazier.
“We’ve had two [scorers] all year,” Pecora said. “It’s basically been [Frazier] and one other or [Severe] and one other, but we haven’t had that third … That’s our challenge, getting to that three and four people, and then you’re a balanced team and you’re a better basketball team.”
Richmond took a 38-31 lead into the half, thanks, in part, to scoring 17 points off of Fordham’s eight first-half turnovers.
Mooney thinks Richmond’s defensive pressure led to the turnovers, he said.
“I think our pressure was steady and I think we forced them into some mistakes,” Mooney said.
Richmond finished with 23 points off of Fordham’s 14 turnovers.
“Points are hard to come by, so any easy points you can get are big,” Mooney said.
Richmond led for the majority of the opening half. Fordham’s brief 18-17 lead midway through the half was the Rams’ final lead of the game.
Severe and Frazier, however, kept the Rams close for most of the second half. Severe scored 10 of his 20 second-half points in the first eight minutes, and Frazier hit his third 3-pointer of the game with less than 12 minutes remaining, which cut the Spiders’ lead to three.
Anthony responded with a five-point burst in less than a minute to extend Richmond’s lead to eight. A 3-pointer by Wayne Sparrow, followed by a breakaway layup by Anthony gave Richmond a 66-55 lead, its first double-digit lead of the game, with less than four minutes to play.
Richmond will look to extend its winning streak Tuesday night when George Washington University, which will be looking to snap its two-game losing skid, visits the Robins Center at 7 p.m.
Contact staff writer Jack Nicholson at email@example.com